Recollections of Ashok Boghani
In 1979, Dr. Ashok Boghani joined the Transportation Group as an engineer, eager to work with Dr. Ranganath Nayak. Over his 21 years at ADL, he worked on 623 projects and proposals, leaving ADL as a Vice President in 2000. Ashok provided a write up of a some of his favorite projects for this and future Newsletters.
Grumman Bus Study
Ashok remembers the Grumman Bus Study, which he did with TSC’s Russ Brantman, as one of his more fascinating studies. Grumman, a separate enterprise before it joined Northrop, was a well-respected aerospace and defense company. In addition to military jets (F-14 Tomcat), it had built the Apollo Lunar Module.
However, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Grumman decided to diversify into making metro buses, called “Flxible.” These buses, designed using the latest aerospace techniques, including what is called a semi-monocoque structure, were unfortunately no match for New York City’s potholes, and soon began to fall apart. In one scary instance, a fuel tank was punctured and a fire ensued. Alarmed, US DOT’s Urban Mass Transit Administration retained TSC to analyze the problem and evaluate the effectiveness of Grumman’s proposed fixes. Ashok developed a dynamic simulation model of the bus so it could be virtually operated on any specific road. They also quantified typical loading of a bus during a typical operation cycle. To do that, one of his colleagues, Todd Burger, rode a Boston MBTA bus through a rough area of the city and counted the number of passengers as the bus travelled its route. Since they did not want harm to come to Todd, they requested and received a police escort! Of course, the presence of a policeman changed the rider profile—many potential passengers entered the bus, but upon seeing the officer, departed. The cash box collected so much money that it jammed—as no one dared ride for free! In the end, using these test results and Ashok’s simulation program, they were able to estimate the forces on various key parts—under both as-is conditions and with the Grumman fixes.
To Grumman’s chagrin, the ADL team said the fixes would not work. The buses were soon taken out of service. Grumman left the business soon afterward to focus on what they knew best—building airplanes!