A free STEM education program

We partner with Iowa K12 schools and other educational groups in a program called Driving Science.

This program is tailored to each group to give complementary, in-person or virtual lessons to your classroom around applied math and science related to the science of driving. We’ll work with teachers to understand their curriculum and come up with custom, short demonstrations, hands-on driving simulator experience (if in-person), interactive Q&As, and presentations. 

Math example

Distance, velocity, and time are integrally related in the study of vehicle motion. Sometimes we’d like to know how fast (or slow!) one must drive to avoid a collision, or how much time before a collision with a given distance and velocity. One such measure is Time to Collision (TTC), a ratio of distance over velocity. TTC is a measure used in forward collision warning systems and other automated driving systems. 

How to calculate TTC:

TTC = ( –distance between two vehicles)  /  (lead car velocity – follow car velocity)


Time to collision example

Using the formula above:

TTC = ( –800)  /  (20 – 100) = 10 seconds to collision

Research: What we do

We collect driving data in safe and controlled environments to improve traffic safety. Our researchers ask:

  • How do humans interact with new technology such as automated vehicles? For example, how does a car’s interface design impact the safe transition from automated driving to manual driving?
  • Do driver training programs help new drivers better anticipate road hazards?
  • Does exercise improve driving ability in people with Parkinson’s disease?
  • How do various types of drugs affect driving performance?


Common jobs in driving science include:

  • Engineers
  • Psychology and human factors experts
  • Computer scientists and programmers
  • Graphics artists and user interface designers
  • Hardware engineers and mechanics
  • Staff in business, communications, and other support staff 

Student internships

We also work with students from high school to graduate students. High school students can apply for internships with us throughout the year through the Workplace Learning Connection. Learn more about working with us.

Contact us

We can provide a virtual lesson for your students, free of charge. If interested in working with us or just want to ask a question, email nads-contacts@uiowa.edu.