No Crash Test Dummy

The work at the RTA Crash Lab is vitally important for the automotive industry.

The RTA Crashlab at Huntingwood in Sydney's west is a modern world-class vehicle crash-testing facility that brings together all testing services and expertise under one roof. The facility provides crash-testing for small Sedans to larger vehicles like four-wheel-drives.

It has the capability to crash test around 100 local and international vehicles per year. Crashlab, which is the principal supplier of testing and technical support for the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and its safety ratings system, has conducted over 750 vehicle crash tests in the last 15 years, including more than 100 at the new Huntingwood facility, which opened in late 2005.

Crashlab maintains comprehensive 'National Association of Testing Authorities' (NATA) Australia accreditation for compliance and testing of a range of safety products to Australian Standards and Australian Design Rules.

Sonja Vangaale, who has a strong education and employment history in automotive, mechanical engineering and motor mechanics, worked for the RTA Crashlab as a technical officer in the Anthropomorphic Test Devices (ATD) section from 1993 - 1996. Her duty was to calibrate and repair anthropomorphic test devices (i.e. crash dummies). These devices are used in vehicles for the evaluation of vehicle protection. Calibration requires testing each component to internationally established standards and protocols. Each device requires constant calibration and repair during the course of a crash test program.

Sonja's duty as a technical officer with the Crash Barrier section was to prepare test vehicles to local and international test protocols for crash testing purposes. She was also required to develop and manufacture test rigs and fixtures. A large portion of Sonja's time was spent capturing the crash test events on high-speed film using specialist high-speed cameras. She was also required to carry out post-test examinations of the test vehicles and reference the findings to film and data.

From 2002-2008, Sonja was the Crash Barrier Program Coordinator where she acted in the vacant Special Projects Engineer position (from January 2002 until May 2004). Her duties in this role included managing test programs, dealing with clients throughout the test programs to ensure timeframes and objectives were completed, ensuring quality of service and technical integrity of the test programs and the development of required specialised technical skills through implementation of staff training.

Sonja's substantive position as Technical/Facilities Coordinator was reviewed in May 2004 to reflect the changing needs of the business unit and the position was subsequently retitled as 'Crash Barrier Program Coordinator'. Sonja's current responsibility in this position involves the management of equipment and resources to successfully complete all aspects of vehicle crash test programs in a timely and professional manner. She develops the skills and competency of the staff by training Crashlab personnel, and designs and implements procedures and policies to reflect changes to protocols and standards. Sonja has also participated in the ANCIS (Australian National Crash In-depth Study) program in conjunction with Monash University.

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VJ Rodney Meier