University of Minnesota Driven to Discover
U of MNUniversity of Minnesota
Center for Transportation Studies

Crash impact: Driven to save lives

Photo: Star Tribune 2004

Photo: Star Tribune 2004

To determine what happens during a crash, the intrepid auto safety pioneer James “Crash” Ryan put himself in the driver ’s seat and his personal safety on the line. Ryan, a University Mechanical Engineering professor from from 1931 to 1963, eventually abdicated the role of test subject in favor of human-size dummies and remote-controlled “crash cars,” but his dedication to the cause of auto safety never faltered.

Ryan’s accomplishments are featured in “Crash impact: Driven to save lives,” found in the Winter 2006 issue of Inventing Tomorrow, a publication of the University’s Institute of Technology.

Ryan’s legacy—the zeal for saving lives—remains the driving force behind transportation studies at the University. At the third annual ME Day in 2004, Mechanical Engineering professor Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute, narrated a presentation on the work of Ryan.