• Dynamics of Heavy Duty Trucks

Learn and Apply Leading University of Michigan Heavy Trucks Research

Whether you are new to truck systems or have years of experience, this course is your chance to learn from leading University of Michigan researchers and affiliated industry experts.

This four-day certificate program will illuminate the special dynamic behavior of heavy truck systems by merging the fundamentals of vehicle dynamics and the details of truck components and their properties.

Information-packed lectures combined with computer simulations, case studies, and real world examples from decades of research and practice will keep you focused from start to finish. The course offers plenty of opportunities to network with course faculty, so bring your questions and come prepared to learn.


Instructor presents to class while holding material

Learning Objectives


By attending this program, participants will be able to apply and transfer the following knowledge:

  • Gain an understanding of the fundamental principles that determine the handling, braking, and ride performance of pneumatic-tired vehicles
  • Examine the special mechanical and geometric properties that determine the unique performance properties of commercial trucks
  • Understand the influences of the mechanical properties of subsystems and components on the dynamic performance of the total vehicle system
  • Gain exposure to methods and tools available to analyze truck behavior


Engineer in a class runs a simulation software from his laptop

Who Should Attend


In addition to engineers involved in vehicle dynamics, this course is intended for people engaged in activities such as:

  • Truck and truck component design
  • Truck equipment selection
  • Fleet safety operations and equipment specification
  • Accident prevention
  • Development of truck safety standards
  • Highway/truck interaction
  • Measuring vehicle behavior
  • Highway safety standards and regulations 

New engineers who could benefit from learning about truck mechanics will find it especially useful.


Program Topics

Truck Components: Physics and Math Models
  • Mechanics of the heavy truck tire
  • Behavior of heavy truck suspensions
  • Kinematics and mechanics of steering systems
  • Heavy vehicle brake system basics
  • Thermal capacity
  • Electronic control systems
Heavy Vehicle System Modeling
  • Simplifying assumptions
  • Unit truck and articulated vehicle models
  • Vehicle instrumentation and data sampling
Dynamic Behavior of Heavy Trucks
  • Ride quality
  • Off-tracking
  • Steady state and transient response to steering
  • The rollover process with the influence of slosh and shifting loads
  • Multi-Unit Vehicles
  • Functional vehicle control
  • Active safety systems
  • Naturalistic driving studies
  • Interaction with highway geometric features
  • Connected vehicles
  • Braking response
  • Brake force distribution
  • Downhill braking
  • Stopping distance
Fundamentals of Heavy Duty Trucks
  • Categories of performance
  • Subsystems of the vehicle
  • Terminology, sign conventions, symbols
  • Overview of vehicle dynamics theory
  • Contrasts between motor car and heavy truck

Program Faculty

Michelle Barnes
Michelle Barnes
Owner, GIS Linking The Layers
Thomas Gillespie
Thomas Gillespie
Research Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)
Steve Karamihas
Steve Karamihas
Senior Research Specialist, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)
David LeBlanc
David LeBlanc
Head, Engineering Systems Group,, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)
Richard Radlinski
Richard Radlinski
Michael Sayers
Michael Sayers
Head of Engineering, Mechanical Simulation Corporation
Chris Winkler
Chris Winkler
Research Scientist Emeritus, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)