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University of Iowa News Release

June 10, 2005

UI Hosts SAE Digital Human Modeling Conference June 14-16

The University of Iowa College of Engineering's Center for Computer-Aided Design (CCAD) and its Virtual Soldier Program (VSR) will host the June 14-16 2005 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Digital Human Modeling Conference, the most prestigious international conference of its kind, on the UI campus in Iowa City.

Conference planners anticipate about 250 guests from engineering, computer programming, automotive, aerospace and other human factors-related industries will attend. The conference is aimed at advancing the technology of designing virtual humans with the potential to save time and money by reducing the need to build physical prototypes to test and evaluate a variety of products prior to manufacture.

Karim Abdel-Malek, conference chair, professor of biomedical engineering and CCAD and VSR director, says that winning the bid to host the conference speaks well of the UI's capabilities in the digital human field.

"We are pleased with SAE's decision to hold the conference in Iowa City and look forward to a successful conference," he says.

VSR researchers will be presenting a total of nine technical papers during the conference. Registered attendees to the conference include representatives from DaimlerChrysler, Renault, Lear Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Peugot-Citroen, NASA, Johnson Controls, NIOSH, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, BMW, Boeing, Daimler Chrysler, Volvo, Honda, Cessna, and many other companies. Next year’s conference will be held in Paris, France.

In the case of the UI's VSR program, Abdel-Malek notes that VSR will increasingly benefit the commercial sector by helping design safer, more ergonomic products. A recently signed $1.75 million, five-year partnership with Caterpillar Inc. of Peoria, Ill. to create new technologies in human modeling and simulation will improve VSR's realistic, computerized human model called "Santos."  Anatomically accurate and possessing the ability to make decisions and ask questions, Santos is an intelligent system. The new partnership will enable UI staff, students and faculty to work with Caterpillar engineers to create new Santos capabilities, such as gripping forces and other factors helpful in determining product safety.

A similar partnership with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Department of Neurology has added emotion-based decision making to Santos's behavior capabilities. Because Santos now has a 'brain' of sorts, it can answer questions such as: 'Can you operate this machine?'

About two years old, VSR has received over $5.5 million from its partners and has accomplished major milestones toward creating new technologies. The VSR team is the largest multidisciplinary group of its kind in the nation conducting research on human modeling and simulation with some 36 researchers from diverse backgrounds. The multidisciplinary team has international experts in biomechanics, optimization, dynamics, haptics, psychology, neurology and engineering and includes professional staff, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

Additional information on VSR can be found at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,