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Guilhermina Torrao

Enterprise Fellow in Engineering Quality Improvement

Guilhermina Torrao

What is your area of study/research?

My area of interest is transportation engineering and mobility, with a strong motivation in road safety. Currently I am in an Enterprise Fellow position at the Automotive Research Centre (ARC) at the University of Bradford, UK. I am developing the research strategy for transportation and vehicle safety projects, since one of the ARC strengths’ is the track of industry collaboration, such as the Jaguar Land Rover partnership.

What influenced you to study/research in your field?

It is a revelation story - in 2008, I applied for a PhD fellowship in the field of air emissions from transportation, since I have a BA in Environmental Engineering. However, my Adviser did not have funding for that particular project advertisement, but for another research related to severe accident analysis. I always wanted to go for a PhD, but I was very reticent if I should committed myself for a research project where data was coming from human suffering. I was aware that analyzing severe accidents would be a challenge because it was real world accident data. Each observation was not about an abstract number, but instead a seriously injured and/or killed. 

What inspires you to continue in your field?

As I started the data collection from the Portuguese Police accident reports, I started to understand that the best attribute for those that lost their lives was by bringing this study into agenda. This was a pioneer study in Portugal, and by accomplishing this research, I contributed to a better understanding for the Portuguese road safety performance and gaps.  The data can be hard to look at it, but if we close the eyes to the subject…nothing is going to change. We must face the problem and look forward, and if impossible to totally avoid, at least, to minimize accidents impacts.

What would you say to young females to encourage them to progress into your field?

I would give them some facts. Do you know that in Europe, the first cause of death for people in 5 -14 years old is road accidents? There is a general understanding that downsizing vehicles will lead to fuel consumption and hence, reduce air emissions. Although the really is slightly different. Larger cars offers extra protection towards its occupants. The right move is to look for more efficient cars without compromising it’s crashworthiness. Do we need any additional motivation?! Research like this needs to happen. Safety comes first!

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