UW-Madison engineers contribute expertise to Oshkosh Corporation

August 27, 2015

When mechanical engineering Professor Dan Negrut took his first ride in Oshkosh Corporation’s new, highly mobile armored truck in July, he marveled at the vehicle’s capabilities.

“It is an amazing piece of technology,” he says. “It goes back to their engineering acumen and the hard work of hundreds of engineers and the dedication of thousands of talented individuals.”

Photo: Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

Oshkosh Corporation won a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply what it calls the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to the Department of Defense.

Photo: Oshkosh Corporation

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced that it has selected Oshkosh Corp for a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply what it calls the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV. Over the next eight years, Oshkosh Corp will build and service thousands of the vehicles for the U.S. military. Observers expect the deal to be worth more than $30 billion, with the possibility of additional sales to international allies.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank was at Oshkosh Corp in July and congratulated the company for the grant this week. She says that Oshkosh’s life-saving technologies are a perfect example of the importance of bringing research to market, and she stressed the value of strengthening future collaborations between UW–Madison and Oshkosh Corp.

Negrut’s involvement with Oshkosh Corp began in 2013 through the Machine-Ground Interaction Consortium (MaGIC), which promotes the use of supercomputers to model how vehicle designs behave in the field. Oshkosh Corp engineers have participated in all of the consortium’s meetings and have twice presented their work.

Read more and watch a video about MaGIC

“With computer simulation, you can test all sorts of maneuvers and change the vehicle configuration,” Negrut says. “Good simulation tools let you test more scenarios cheaper and faster.”

This summer, Oshkosh Corp hired Justin Madsen, who has worked in Negrut’s lab since 2007 and recently completed a postdoc at UW–Madison. Madsen joins almost 100 other UW–Madison alumni employed at the company.

Negrut says that Madsen takes a wealth of knowledge about ground-vehicle simulation with him to Oshkosh Corp. “This is the best example of ‘transfer of technology’ I can imagine,” he says.

In addition to providing highly trained engineers to Oshkosh Corp, Negrut’s team has made other contributions that have benefited the JLTV project over time. “I’m doing my best to translate my lab’s research and innovations into computer tools and analysis methods that these folks can use to improve their engineering products,” he says. “It’s as simple as that — the merit is all theirs, and their vehicle is amazing. I hope I’ll help them make it even more amazing.”