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ME 626 Vehicle Body Structure Design and Analysis

Catalog Description

ME 626 Vehicle Body Structure Design (3). Prerequisites: ME 380 and ME 442, or equivalents. Principles of structural analysis and design for commercial and passenger vehicle bodies. Body architecture. Fabrication/assembly options. NVH assessment and optimization. Material selection for safety, reliability, cost reduction, and weight reduction.

Prerequisites by Topic

  1. Computer solid modeling.
  2. Introduction to finite element analysis.
  3. Machine component design.


J.C. Brown, A.J. Robertson, and S.T. Serpento, Motor Vehicle Structures - Concepts and Fundamentals, 1st edition, SAE International, 2002.


G. Prater, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course provides graduate level mechanical engineering students with a broad understanding of the technologies, techniques and tools involved in the design and optimization of body structures for commercial and passenger vehicles. Upon completion of the course, students will have a comprehensive knowledge technologies and terminologies associated with automotive structural design. They will be able to prepare computer models, specify appropriate loads, and determine static and dynamic response characteristics. Finally, they will be able to use analysis results to optimize the body structure design.

Topics Covered

  1. Body structure jargon and terminology (1 class).
  2. Vehicle architecture; definition of the body-in-white; relationship between modeling and analysis (2 classes).
  3. Vehicle loads (3 classes).
  4. Structural performance requirements: stiffness, strength, dynamic response (4 classes).
  5. Structural model specification - structural concept models (4 classes).
  6. Modeling of passenger car architectures (4 classes).
  7. Modeling of truck architectures (4 classes).
  8. Structural layout (4 classes).
  9. Sizing sections and major body joints (4 classes).
  10. Assembly joints (2 classes).
  11. Developing finite element models from geometric models (4 classes).
  12. Material selection and corrosion control (2 classes).
  13. Major team design project (1 class).
  14. Field trip to the Kentucky Truck Plant (1 class).
  15. Examinations (2 classes).

Computer Use

Industry-standard design and analysis software is used extensively. AISI structural design software is used for sizing sections and joints. Solid modeling and FEA software is used for structural design and analysis.

Class/Laboratory Schedule

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


Homework assignments - 20%, midterm exams (2) - 40%, team project - 20%, final exam - 20%.

Curriculum Criterion Contribution

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

Relationship to Program Outcomes

This course supports Mechanical Engineering academic 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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