Jiacheng Liu Selected as the 2019 ISD Outstanding Capstone Award Winner

The award is given out annually to the capstone design project with the most impact, application and quality.

Jiacheng Liu, an alumna from the Manufacturing Master’s program, won the 2019 ISD Outstanding Capstone Award. The award is presented annually to the capstone design project that demonstrated outstanding impact, excellent contributions to practice, exemplary deployment of classroom material in an industrial application, excellent quality of the project work, and great potential value-added benefits for the sponsor.

Jiacheng worked with Professor Jingwen Hu on her Manufacturing Capstone project entitled “Adaptive Football Helmet Design through Impact Simulations.” The objectives of this study were to develop parametric human head finite element (FE) models accounting for geometric variations in the teenager and young adult population, and to evaluate the influence of head morphological variation on brain impact responses in sports-related concussions, helping with making optimal helmet design decisions. In the current safety industries, only three isolated human testing models, a mid sized male, an oversized male, and a petite female are considered in injury simulations. Since variability in injury is often caused by the variation of the human bodies, it is needed to generate a method for generating FE human head models accounting for geometric variations efficiently. Then a set of parametric models were simulated to evaluate the brain tissue response under different impact conditions for different helmet designs. 

Jiacheng was able to create this new model so researchers can take a deeper look at optimal helmet design specifically based on the simulated injury responses. Lots of simulation results with different conditions and designs showed that some helmet designs, including friction and the neck restraint, are beneficial in reducing the magnitude of injuries. Jiacheng also found out that human predictors like age, gender and even body mass indicators (BMI) were correlated with injury risk as well as the hit directions. The new model could be used to assess the injury risk for each person efficiently and then help build them a custom-designed helmet with better protection in the future. 

“The 503 Capstone project team is currently preparing a journal article based on Jiacheng’s model. Her work on the parametric human head model is state-of-the-art and an important foundation for many possible future research works related to head injuries, especially sport-related traumatic brain injuries,” Hu said. 

Jiacheng is from Baoding, a small city in northern China. She grew up around engineering as her grandfather worked in the industry as an engineer and actually helped build their apartment building where they lived, giving her early exposure to this career path. 

She studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Science and Technology Beijing. During her senior year she attended a lecture about the joint partnership program with the University of Michigan (U-M) and heard Professor Judy Jin’s speech, who is the program director for the Manufacturing program. Jiacheng had already known she wanted to get her masters, but upon hearing that Integrative Systems + Design (ISD) would not only allow her to learn theoretical knowledge, but also the communication and management expertise as well, helped guide her decision. This interdisciplinary program where she could study with students from other different areas and learn from them is really what made her apply to the program. 

Jiacheng now works in Professor Hu’s lab at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute as a research assistant, continuing working on the injury responses accounting for human variations, before she enters into the Industrial & Operations Engineering PhD program at U-M, with Professor Jin as her advisor. She wants to focus on data analytics in quality control as a faculty member once she graduates.

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