For the third year now, the Volvo Car Corporation is organising a framework conference for its Industrial Ph. D. Programme – a joint project between industry and the educational establishment; more specifically, between Volvo Cars and technical colleges and universities of technology throughout Sweden.
The purpose of the Industrial Ph. D. Programme, which was launched in autumn 1999, is to nurture cooperation between Volvo Cars and the educational system, creating a network that will secure long-term product development competence within strategically important areas.
In addition, this close link between research, pre-engineering and the Volvo Car Corporation’s emerging new-car projects will help ensure that the technology integrated in forthcoming new models undergoes further constant development and refinement. The programme also boosts the perception of the Volvo Car Corporation as a high-tech, research-intensive company, thus enhancing its attractiveness when it comes to the recruitment of highly qualified staff.
Operations within all development departments
In the Industrial PH. D. Programme, there are always about 30 undergraduates engaged in their special areas at any one time, and their work represents just about every development department within the company.
So in keeping with the aim of the programme, the conference covers a wide spectrum of areas, constituting an evaluation of the quality of the various projects in an international perspective, and at the same time an evaluation of the programme’s contents, balance and quality.
The special studies, several of which are now in their third year, all have a direct bearing on auto-industry operations, with relevance to both current and forthcoming projects and applications.
They focus on aspects such as safety, engine technology, production technology and materials sciences, with particular emphasis on environmental consideration.
A few examples:
Within the area of safety, for instance, a study is being undertaken on "Path Prediction and Decision Making for Collision Avoidance" – a project by Jonas Jansson that deals with research into systems for preventing or reducing the severity of collisions by actively influencing the actual driving process itself, for example steering and braking.
Another important safety area is that of whiplash injuries. Lotta Jakobsson’s "Biomechanics of Neck Injuries Focus Whiplash" considerably boosts expertise on severe whiplash injuries and the ways of preventing their occurrence in cars.
Lotta Jakobsson has worked on this problem area for several years, and was one of Volvo’s expert resources behind the development of the Volvo WHIPS – Whiplash Protection System.
In the area of environmental optimisation and engine technology, one of the contributions is "HCCI for Petrol Engines", undertaken by Dutchman Lucien Koopmans. His work deals with the difficult task of unifying demands for powerful petrol engines with stipulations concerning ever-lower fuel consumption and emissions. The way ahead, according to Lucien Koopmans, is a combustion process that works on the basis of compression instead of an electrical spark, in a fresh new application of the traditional Otto cycle for petrol engines.
The various special studies are reviewed by a number of internationally renowned professors from universities such as Glasgow, Dearborn and Karlsruhe, and naturally also from the Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg.
The programme has a strong international flavour since both the undergraduates and their supervisors come from a variety of countries. One of the aims of the programme, after all, is to create an international contact network that can serve as a resource for all those involved.