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ME 526 Vehicle Dynamics and Handling

Catalog Description

ME 526 Vehicle Dynamics and Handling (3). Prerequisites: ME 380 and ME 442, or equivalents. Design of passenger and commercial vehicles for optimal dynamic performance, with a focus on architecture layout, characterization of critical subsystems, and CAE-based kinematic and kinetic modeling.

Prerequisites by Topic

  1. Computer-aided design
  2. Machine design


T.D. Gillespie, Fundamentals of Vehicle Dynamics, Society of Automotive Engineers, 1992.


  1. Robert Bosch, Automotive Handbook, Bentley Publishers, 7th revision, 2007.
  2. T. Newton, How Cars Work, Black Apple Press; 1st edition, 1999.
  3. Instructor-prescribed technical reading list.


G. Prater, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course provides senior undergraduate and graduate mechanical engineering students with an introduction to ground vehicle technologies and automotive engineering, with a focus on dynamic response and handling. Students completing the course will understand the basic layout of modern vehicles in terms of structure and critical functional subsystems, as well as the loads acting on a vehicle during various operational modes. They will able to write the system equations of motion and solve them to determine the vehicle dynamic response. Modern CAE software is used for vehicle performance optimization. The course concludes with an overview of emerging trends and technologies.

Topics Covered

  1. The global worldwide automotive industry: vehicle design, production, and lifecycle support; ground vehicle transportation infrastructure (1 class)
  2. Vehicle classification and architecture, weight distribution (3 classes)
  3. Drive train characterization (2 classes)
  4. Drive train kinetics: traction, squat/pitch and roll (3 classes)
  5. Brake systems: system components and operational characteristics (2 classes)
  6. Brake systems: proportioning, stability, anti-skid and traction control features (1 class)
  7. Aerodynamics (3 classes)
  8. Rolling resistance and tire models (2 classes)
  9. Vehicle ride: dynamic models, excitation sources, active response control (4 classes)
  10. Turning behavior: geometry and kinematics, understeer, suspension influences (4 classes)
  11. Steering systems: typical configurations, components, and design considerations (4 classes)
  12. Suspension systems: typical configurations, components, design considerations (3 classes)
  13. Front-wheel and multi-axle drive architectures (2 classes)
  14. Full vehicle dynamic modeling and simulation: rollover (4 classes)
  15. The future: vehicle design directions (1 class)
  16. Exams and field trip (3 classes)

Computer Use

  1. Vehicle dynamic response modeling using MATLAB and CarSim software.
  2. Vehicle architecture design and optimization using the UL Vehicle Architecture Design and Optimization Tool Suite.
  3. Aerodynamic drag assessment using SolidWorks Flow Simulation CFD package.

Class/Laboratory Schedule

Three 50 minute sessions per week devoted to lecture, discussion, and design/analysis problem solving.


Homework assignments (5) - 15%, individual design projects (2) - 15%, midterm exams (2) - 30%, team design project - 25%, final exam - 15%. Graduate students are required to write more extensive reports for the individual design projects, with a format consistent with a technical journal submission, external references, and a minimum length 50 percent greater than required for undergraduate students.

Curriculum Criterion Contribution

Engineering design: 1 credit, engineering science, 2 credits.

Relationship to Program Outcomes

This course supports Mechanical Engineering Department B.Sc. program objectives by developing:

  • An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to identify, formulate and solve problems in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to communicate effectively.
  • A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern tools necessary for the practice of mechanical engineering.

Prepared by G. Prater, April 2009

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