Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Darris L. White, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Marc D. Compere, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Patrick N. Currier, Ph.D.


In the vehicle design life cycle, validation tests consume a significant portion of the available development time. With a short, one-year design cycle, the Embry-Riddle Baja Team leverages computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to simulate critical test cases whose loading conditions can be accurately represented by a series of static loads and constraints. Using these conditions, a Finite Element Model (FEM) can be employed to accurately predict the effects of the loading conditions in the components. During the initial design of the front suspension, one major load case was determined to be the main failure load. However, after validation testing the suspension exhibited a failure indicative of a load path not predicted. To obtain a more complete understanding of the dynamic loading conditions on the affected component, instrumentation was implemented to measure strain in the critical member. A dynamic vehicle test case was performed to measure a high-frequency, high-load case representative of an event during the vehicle service life. The measurement was then utilized to validate a Finite Element Model, in turn used to re-design the member. This component withstands the loading condition for infinite fatigue life without increasing the overall weight of the design, although the failure was not reproduced during testing.