Monthly Archives: January 2019

The application of a USDOT Crash-Like Computer Program Crash/Trajectory in Forensic Engineering by Robert L. Hess, Ph.D. and Joel T. Hicks, P.E.

In 1987, my young daughter was painting on office paper in her grandparent’s home. Her grandmother gave her the paper to use for this purpose. Together my daughter and her grandmother used the unprinted side of that paper to create water color pictures.

Imagine how delighted I was to find that the back side of the paper they had used contained part of a paper co-authored by my father. I have retyped what I found so that is legible for the reader of this blog. Sadly, not all of the pages are here . I found that you can download this full paper on-line at a cost of $25.00. I did not pay the fee, so this is only a sampling of the full document. Here is the link for the retrieval of the full document…

The Application of a USDOT CRASH-LIKE Computer Program CRASH / TRAJECTORY in Forensic Engineering

Part A: Mathematical Basis and General Capabilities by

Robert L. Hess, PhD

Joel T. Hicks,P.E.

(N.A.F.E. #049 Member)

Automotive accident reconstruction can be dramatically assisted and improved by the use of microcomputers which are programmed to utilize the vehicle damage and accident scene data. CRASH /TRAJECTORY is such a program and is based upon a main-frame computer program developed by the U. S. Department of Transportation. The federal program has been personalized and improved for use by legal and engineering offices faced with the task of interpreting actual accident cases. Where the federal program did not allow the user full access to the internal data tables and the output of the program’ s equations, these new programs do, through the use of user friendly menus and tables.

Introduction to the Underlying Mathematical Principles.

The laws of physics which underlie CRASH/TRAJECTORY are those which relate FORCE to changes in MOMENTUM and to changes in KINETIC and POTENTIAL ENERGY. These are based upon Newton’ s Laws, universally accepted as governing mechanical phenomena involving forces, mass and motion. To use these laws knowingly it would be good to review a few definitions and ideas of the physics of motion. This will be done in the next few paragraphs after which we shall turn to discussion of the program.

A body of mass (mass is the expression of the weight of a body in the gravitational unit named ‘slugs’) which is moving is said to have a VELOCITY and a LINEAR MOMENTUM. First note that there is a subtle difference between the two words SPEED and VELOCITY. Speed i s a measure of the magnitude of the rate of change of position of a body with time. Speed is measured in miles per hour or feet per second (MPH or ft./sec.).Speed does not in itself provide any information as to the direction of motion of a body, the word ‘velocity’ does. Combining the ideas of a body’s speed and direction of motion creates a VECTOR quantity, the VELOCITY VECTOR, or for shortness, the ‘velocity’. Velocity is a vector, i.e., an arrow-like quantity, with both magnitude and direction properties and would be described in writing as say, 45 MPH southward. A vehicle weighing 3220 pounds has



(“Blueberry” was a favorite stuffed animal)

Robert L. Hess’s History of Research, Service and Teaching Contributions to the University of Michigan



November 20, 1984


FROM: Prof. Walter Debler

SUBJECT: Robert L. Hess’s History of Research, Service and Teaching Contributions to the University of Michigan.

Professor Hess received his B.S.E. in Engineering Mathematics and B.S.E. in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Michigan, after which he served as an Engineering Officer in the U.S. Navy.

Upon release from active world war II service he returned to Ann Arbor, the home of his wife, Gretchen R. (Ream) Hess and on a visit to the Engineering Mechanics office was hired as a full-time instructor and was asked to undertake a research project by Prof. J. Ormondroyd. The project became the basis of his Doctorial Thesis, “The Dynamics of Ship’s Structures, including Shear Deformations”.

This work was directed by Professor· Ormondroyd and became one of the first major engineering works to be programmed for the ENIAC (that being done by the David Taylor Model Basin, Dept. of the Navy).

During the three years of full time teaching, (Dr.) Hess served in the U.S. Naval Ready Reserve and spent his training periods at the Model Basin. He was honored by being requested to provide, along with his brother, 40 hours of lectures on mathematics and advanced dynamics for the scientific staff of the Navy at the Model Basin.

Professor Hess was recruited by the Bell Telephone Laboratories and joined BTL as a Member of the Technical Staff in the fall of 1949, being assigned to a ‘heavy-tube’ Development Group. The many research projects he participated in included the assignment to undertake the development of a pilot line for the production of both the material for and the devices known as ‘point-contact’, type A transistors. (This was before the courts orderd BTL to place the technology on the market and was thus a unique endeavor for Dr. Hess.) It was typical of him to have the breadth of both interest and scientific knowledge that brought him such a coveted assignment and also success in it. He developed new techniques of crystal growing and zone-purifying as well as a novel method of doping the contact area to created photo-sensitive transistors.

In his third year at BTL Dean G.G. Brown called him with an unsolicited offer to return to the U. of M. as an Assistant Prof. of Chemical and Metallurgical Eng. and Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics and to also take on a Phoenix Project dealing with the atomic structure of glass. Dean Brown gave Prof. Hess the challenge of creating a new course in structure of glass and ceramics. At the end of his third year Hess was promoted to Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics and left the Chem. Met. Dept. He undertook the reactivation of the Dept.’s Photo-Elasticity Lab. and generated a course for it as well as teaching. in the areas of elasticity and dynamics.

In about 1957, Vice President and Dean of Faculties, Prof. M. Niehus asked Prof. Hess to join an elete committee of engineers and scientists to oversee the work of the Willow Run Laboratories which at that time was experiencing troubled relationships with the Department of the Army, its prime source of support. In Jan. 1958 Dean Niehuss requested that Hess take leave of his teaching and consulting practice and join a new management team, headed by Prof. J.A. Boyd {now Chairman of Harris Corp.) to salvage and redirect the Willow Run Laboratories. Hess was given the specific assignment of Technical Director of Project Michigan as well as an Assistant Directorship of WRL. In addition Hess became the Head of the Applied Research Group of the Labs. In March of 1958 Dean Attwood informed Hess of the approval of his promotion to full Professorship. (A promotion which was said to make Hess the youngest full professor in the College’s history.)

Prof. Hess soon developed a keen ability to manage multiple teams of researchers on topics varying from information processing, semiconductor development, infrared scanning and synthetic antenna radar. He was able to apply his knowledge of basic physics and mathematics to the tasks as a member of the teams involved and to also represent them to the top military officers and, upon the creation of a Department of Defense to the scientific part of that community. In his unique fashion and with unusual modesty his term of management, which after three years included the project directorship as well as it technical direction, Hess always put his staff in the foreground and sacrificed personal fame in the process. Never-the-less upon his decision to return to teaching, the Department of the Army awarded Prof. Hess with THE OUTSTANDING CIVILIAN SERVICE MEDAL the inscription of which read in part ‘Hess succeeded in establishing and maintaining the University of Michigan as the leading free world authority in surveillance technology’.

His own proven scientific talent and professional imagination contributed additionally to the accomplishments of a broad team of scientists and technicians. The rare combination of skill, foresight and devotion to country…’. During the years of 1964 and 1965·, Hess served as the personal representative of the U.S. Army’s Assist Chief of Staff for Intelligence and led teams of scientists through a comprehensive field review of the Army’s Combat Surveillance capabilities in Europe and in Korea. As a token of the regard that the Army had for Hess’s abilities, over 70% of his recommendations from the Korean area were implemented. In 1965 Professor Hess visited with President H. Hatcher with the view of leaving the Project Michigan assignment and returning to full-time teaching. By that time, the I.S.T. had been created and W.R.L. was part of it and Hess was one of its directors. President Hatcher, through Prof. Norman, Vice President for Research offered Hess the challenge of using the $10 million original gift from the automobile industry to create the Highway Safety Research Institute. A counter offer on Hess’ part allowed him to hire a top level ‘internal administrator’ for H.S.R.I. and thus to be able to devote his attention to building the staff and its research programs and to also return to teaching, which was his first love. With a regentially appointed Executive Committee and with the cooperation of dozens of the University’s faculty Hess was able in a few years to build a building, hire internationally known figures and to build a program of research spanning fields from Law to Medicine and from Engineering to Psychology. His untiring drive established the Institute as the world’s premiere institution of its kind and brought not only many millions of research dollars to our campus for the support of researchers, faculty and graduate students but also continued to enhance the reputation of the University of Michigan.

During a long period of the H.S.R.I. years, Hess also served the University as a Consultant to the Army’ Science Board where he both chaired and participated in the study of many of the nation’s outstanding technical problems and challanges.

During the last five years Professor Hess undertook two major research studies while teaching a nearly full load and directing the H.S.R.I. These were first the review of the complete research findings in the scientific, engineering and medical communities of the experimentation protocols and the knowledge in the area of blunt trauma to the human head and second, the same for the area of blunt trauma to the thorax. In each case an annotated history of the development of the government’s use of the knowledge in its regulation was developed and recommendations were put forward for the future of research in the field. The second of these studies was selected for publication in the S.A.E.’s transactions. Hess served the University by membership on President Nixon’s Highway Safety Advisory Committee and also undertook service as a Consultant to the World Health Organization.

Prof Hess resigned his position as Director of U.M.T.R.I. (the succesor to H.S.R.I.) and returned to a full time faculty teaching role in January of 1984. In keeping with his reputation, he has undertaken the teaching of the Control Systems course, ME461, a new course for him, with vigor and has provided new leadership in its laboratory and course work with several software packages he has written to enhance the depth and breath of the educational experience of the students He also accepted an assignment as the Mechanical Engineering Program Adviser and has written software packages now in use by that office to materially enhance the efficiency of the process and to allow the Adviser to take a proactive rather than a reactive role in counseling. He is also supervising the trial use of a professional in this office.

All in all, Professor Hess’ academic and service accomplishments are outstanding and the respect that he has rightfully gained from his peers is only reflective of the credit he has always given to them over 32 years of devoted service to the University. In the classroom, the laboratory and the office he has represented the best the University of Michigan could offer its students and country.

Willow Run Labs Project Michigan article from The Michigan Daily


(I transcribed this article I found on the web

Willow Run (Continued from Page 1)
Several times a year military brass will fly in on special transports to inspect the entire  Willow Run installation. The atmosphere is described as frequently tense by some insiders. Competition for military research contracts is high. Project Michigan, the mainstay of the operation is down to $2.5 million this year from $3.5 several years ago.
Like any office the facility has its in-group jokes. “One of our favorite jokes is to talk about the non-military uses of the new observatory in Hawaii,” says a Willow Run staffer. “Publicly the officials talk about the peaceful uses of the observatory. But everyone knows its there for tracking IC-BM’s and satellites.” Although WRL officials plead ignorance on the matter; there is informed speculation that the $4.3 million dollar observatory the University is staffing in Maui, Hawaii will play a role in satellite warfare.
The defense department sponsored observatory may be used in the highly secretive spy satellite business. Currently the Air-Force is developing a top secret anti-satellite system to knock enemy satellites out of action undetected. The idea is to use sophisticated electronic devices to “bump” an enemy satellite (equipped with cameras and eavesdropping gear) out of action. The new observatory will “track the mid-course flights of . . . orbiting satellites with advanced infrared sensing, measuring and recording devices,” according to President Hatcher’s 1963-64 Annual Report. Tracking the satellites would be an integral part of the anti-satellite system. And trade publications suggest that the new Hawaiian observatory could well be used, in that manner.

Work at the Willow Run center started in 1946 when the facility was known as the Michigan Aeronautical Research Center. The original work was done on adapting ballistic missiles for defense purposes under Project Wizard. In 1950 WRL worked in cooperation with Boeing aircraft on a new missile system to knock out bomber aircraft called BOM-ARC: Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center.’

In 1953, the giant of all past and present research, Project Michigan was born and is still carried on under their auspices. Willis E. Groves, current head of Project Michigan says the basic purpose of Project Michigan was to “build better spectacles for our military” and that it is primarily concerned with radar and infrared research.

According to Robert L. Hess who was director of Project Michigan from 1962-65 when he became director of the Highway Research Institute, “Project Michigan was the best investment ($70 million over the past 13 years) the army ever made.

The army was similarly impressed with Hess’s work and in 1964 awarded him the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for his contributions as director of Project Michigan, noting that he had “succeeded in establishing and maintaining the University of Michigan as the leading free world authority in surveillance technology.” Hess says he was shocked when he received the award: “I had no idea they were going to give me this, it was a wonderful surprise.”

The Willow Run center also maintains three national clearing-houses. One is the Ballistic Missiles Radiation Center (BAMI-RAC) which collects, analyzes and disseminates information relative to ballistic missile radiation, a subject important in developing a defense against such missiles. BAMIRAC does significant technical research in this area.

An Infrared Information and Analysis center (IRIA) is now in its 13th year and disseminates information on infrared science and technology. A third center now in its seventh year disseminates information on “seismic detection of underground nuclear explosions.”

Although WRL is a nationwide information center, it proves reticent about disclosing the extent of its own activities.

The University makes a “Quarterly Compilation” of all research contracts on campus. But director Evaldson declines to release the information on WRL in the compilation because “I believe this goes into greater detail on our affairs than I could properly make public.”  He will release his own “compilation of the projects,” contained in the quarterly compilation.

Some of the project names tend to be euphemistic. For example a $48,731 Navy sponsored project described as “Passive Lopair Support Studies” with Donald S. Lowe a physicist in the Infrared and Optical Sensor Lab, is actually concerned with “The detection of chemical warfare agents using passive Lopair techniques.” In this project, which expires in January 1969, Lowe is studying the ability of a certain optical system (LOPAIR) to detect chemical warfare agents.

Scientists at the Willow Run center are actively involved in conducting classified symposiums. The Willow Run center continues to conduct the semi-annual meetings of the Anti-Missle Research Advisory Council (AMRAC) under sponsorship of the Defense Departments’ ARPA.

Willow Run scientists have also taken an active role in the ARPA sponsored “Counterinsurgency Research and Development Symposium (CIRADS). Among those who have attended the symposium are Evaldson, James T. Wilson, head of IST, and Marvin Holter, head of the infrared and optical sensor lab at WRL.

This year the University helped plan and sponsor the second annual CIRADS conference held in Houston in June. George Zissis, head of the infared physics lab at WRL was program chairman.

Zissis says that the conference “was an interdisciplinary effort to find out what causes insurgency. We had political scientists deliver papers on the difficult problem of how you handle indigenous forces in friendly contries.”

“This was an effort to give people who have been doing classified work in this field a chance to get together and share their information.”

Zissis says about 300 to 400 persons attended the conference. “There were people from British Intelligence, Thailand, Australia, Hughes Aircraft, the Rand Corporation, George Washington University, and the Royal Canadian Dragoons.”

I tried to get someone to deliver a paper on how we could end the conflict in Vietnam but no one would do it.”