Career: Safety engineer
Learn to: Propel a sedan at 60 mph into a roadside planter
At the NCAC, every student in the school's transportation-safety graduate program gets a car and instructions to tear it down to piles of nuts and bolts, struts and glass sheets. Then the student rebuilds the vehicle in a computer model so he can virtually crash it again and again. (Students also help with real crash tests.)
The lab works with auto manufacturers and the Department of Transportation to inform safety standards for cars and "roadside furniture," such as light poles, barriers and signs. The current curriculum confronts a recent problem on the freeways: the huge population of SUVs, minivans and other small trucks. Students are trying to figure out whether objects like highway barriers should be changed to reflect the size of the vehicles likely to be plowing into them in the future.
Web site: GWU