November 11, 2008 — Richard W. Kent, an associate professor in the University of Virginia's Engineering School, was named a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers in honor of his accomplishments in occupant safety and restraint performance, injury biomechanics and optimization.
Kent, a faculty member in Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, leads the Automobile Restraint Research Group within the Center for Applied Biomechanics. The center has been conducting innovative biomechanical research since its founding in 1989 as the Automobile Safety Laboratory and is recognized as one of the leading research groups in the world within the area of injury biomechanics.
Kent was named a Fellow in recognition of his contributions to injury biomechanics, especially in the area of assessing and characterizing thoracic trauma for the pediatric and aging populations.
His efforts, built largely on creating new mathematical algorithms, will enable seat belts and airbags to process data rapidly during an impending crash, such as how fast the car is going and the shape of the object being hit, and combine it with data about the driver, such as size, weight, bone density, position, age and health, to determine the best response of the safety equipment
“Kent’s work is having an impact on automobile design and design of safety mechanisms for people at both ends of the life cycle, from infants to the elderly," said Jeff Crandall, director of the Engineering School's Center for Applied Biomechanics.
"Automobile safety is improving significantly due to his research,"
Kent joined the U.Va. faculty in April 2002. He holds degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah and a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the U.Va. In 2004, he was named one of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators by Technology Review.