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Engineering Professors Receive Automotive Safety Engineering Award

WARRENDALE, Pa., June 27, 2007 - Four engineering professors from the U.S. and Australia are recipients SAE International's Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award.  They were presented the award at the 2007 Government/Industry Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The award, established in 1975, recognizes the authors delivering the most outstanding paper at an SAE International meeting on the subject of automotive safety engineering.  It honors SAE 1967 President Ralph Isbrandt, who, during his 45-year automotive career, provided a constant inspiration to young engineers in the field of mobility engineering.

The following recipients are recognized for co-authoring the paper, "Side Impact Injury Risk for Belted Far Side Passenger Vehicle Occupants" (SAE paper 2005-01-0287).

Kennerly Digges
Digges is a research professor at The George Washington University, where he is Director of Vehicle Safety and Biomechanics at the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National Crash Analysis Center.  He also serves as Director of Research for the William Lehman Injury Research Center and Ryder Trauma Center at the University of Miami.  Previously, he was Senior Executive at NHTSA.

With more than 30 years of experience in automotive safety research, Digges has authored or co-authored more than 50 technical papers dealing with crash safety.  His awards include the U.S. Department of Transportation Silver Medal, the Geico Public Service Award for Highway Safety, and the Automotive Occupant Restraints Council Pathfinder Award.  He is a member of SAE International, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Digges earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech, and his master's and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University.  He is a post-doctoral Fellow of bio-engineering at Oxford University.  He resides in Charlottesville, Va. 

To set up an interview with Digges, please contact Tracy Schario at The George Washington University, 202-994-6460.

Brian Fildes
Fildes is a road safety professor at the Monash University Accident Research Center in Melbourne, Australia, where he has worked for 20 years.  Prior to developing his road safety career, Fildes was an industrial engineer and consultant, working in Australia and Canada for a number of companies, including Michelin Tire Corp. 

Internationally known for his work, Fildes has published more than 300 papers, reports, books and book chapters on a range of safety related topics, and holds editorial positions on a number of international scientific journals.  His awards include the Hall Thermotank Group Trainee Award, the Institute of Production Engineers Ian McLennan Prize, the Ergonomics Society Prize in Human Factors, and a Monash University Graduate Scholarship.  He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, and a long-standing member of SAE International, the Human Factors Society, and the Australian College of Road Safety.

Fildes holds a bachelor's in psychology and economics and a doctorate in research psychology from Monash University. 

To set up an interview with Fildes, please contact Daniel Wilson at Monash University, 

Hampton Gabler
Gabler is an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at

Virginia Tech, where he is Assistant Director of the Virginia Tech and Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.  He is also a member of the Center of Injury Biomechanics.  Prior to Virginia Tech, he was a research program manager at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Rowan University.

An internationally recognized expert in vehicle crash safety, Gabler has published more than 60 technical papers on the subject.  He is a recipient of SAE International's Ralph R. Teetor Award, a Dwight D. Eisenhower Fellowship, Princeton University's Luigi Crocco Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

He holds a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University.  He resides in Blacksburg, Va.

To set up an interview with Gabler, please contact Lynn Nystrom at Virginia Tech,

Laurence Sparke
Sparke is an adjunct professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and a retired chief engineer at GM Holden Innovation in Port Melbourne, Australia.  At Holden, he was responsible for developing new products, technologies and processes dealing with vehicle side impact protection.  He was a member of the GM Global Safety Council, the Global Science Office Council, and the GM Global Advanced Technology Council.

Sparke has received more than 10 awards during his career, including the Engineers Australia National Professional Engineer of the Year Award and the SAE Australia Hartnett Award.  He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a member of SAE Australia, the National Pane of Biomechanics of Injury, the College of Biomedical Engineers, and the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. 

Sparke holds engineering degrees from RMIT University and Deakin University in Melbourne, and an engineering degree from Kettering University in Flint, Mich. 

To set up an interview with Sparke, please contact RMIT University Media and Communications at 

To learn more about SAE International's Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award, please contact