Center for Injury Research and Prevention

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Child Passenger Safety Research as a Trainee

September 17, 2020

A note from Valentina Graci, PhD: Today we are pleased to welcome a guest blog post from Shreyas Sarfare, MS, a former biomechanics trainee at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP).

Shreyas Sarfare
Shreyas Sarfare, MS, a former CIRP biomechanics trainee.

Having previously worked on design and analysis of automobiles and other machineries, the opportunity to apply those skills in the field of pediatric biomechanics at CHOP presented an interesting and exciting change. I joined CHOP in August of 2017 after completing my Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. My research focused on developing computational models to understand the injury biomechanics of pediatric occupants in automobile crashes.

During my time at CHOP, I worked at CIRP with Aditya Belwadi, PhD, Valentina Graci, PhD, Thomas Seacrist, MBE, and others on several projects funded through the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS). My primary interest was the application of finite element analysis to understand pediatric occupant kinetics and kinematics in the event of a vehicle crash. To meet this goal and analyze the effectiveness of child restraint systems (CRS) to reduce injury, I developed computational models of full vehicle crash simulations that involved exploring and quantifying the injury potential for children in forward-facing CRS and booster seats exposed to a deploying modern front passenger air bag.

In addition to my work with computational models, I served as a co-investigator on a project analyzing the SHRP2 (Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study Database), which provides insight into real-world crash characteristics. The work primarily involved analyzing the data of the crashes, understanding the crash causation factors, and recommending potential Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technologies interventions. I also served as a co-investigator on a project that involved analyzing the most recent five years of NASS data for frontal crashes.The goal was to understand the representativeness of FMVSS 213 pulse to real-world crashes and injuries associated with those crashes.

Being part of a multidisciplinary research center also allowed me to branch out into other research areas, such as considering the autonomous vehicle domain from a human factors perspective. I designed and developed a mock vehicle interior setup to conduct a usability study for parents using child restraint systems in non-traditional seating configurations to understand the importance of seat orientation. This research offers vehicle manufacturers the opportunity to design vehicles with different interiors than traditional passenger vehicles.

One of my most valuable learning experiences was preparing manuscripts and presenting my research at various conferences. I presented my work on “Comparative Responses of the PIPER 6YO Human Body Model and the Q6 ATD for Simulated Frontal and Lateral Impacts” at the 2018 Stapp Car Crash Conference in San Diego. My involvement with CChIPS also provided many opportunities to network with fellow researchers and industry members in the automotive safety domain and enabled me to learn more about the ongoing research in various topics.

My time at CHOP gave me the opportunity to contribute to improving child passenger safety. In our quest towards achieving zero deaths due to vehicle crashes, every step makes a difference, and my work at CIRP enabled me to contribute toward that goal. The research experience I gained in the process was very rewarding and helped prepare me to pursue my PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. I hope to continue contributing to the advancement of research while pursuing my graduate studies and beyond.