Ahead of the game
Sports engineers are helping athletes run faster, jump higher and kick more goals.
While athletes train hard for the next event, sports engineers work behind the scenes to develop technologies that can power up performance or reduce the risk of injury.
When Australia’s ORICA-GreenEDGE cycling team competed in the 2016 Tour de France, they wore a helmet that could boost their riding speed (above). The brain behind the aerodynamic Scott Cadence Plus helmet is Richard Kelso, Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Adelaide.
Joining with Scott Sports in Switzerland, Richard and his students set out to develop a helmet that could help riders to higher speeds without them overheating. “Our goal was to produce a helmet design with the lowest drag possible, but also to ensure the rider’s head is well cooled – and, above all, well protected,” Richard says.
Sports engineers can make sporting equipment smarter. Franz Fuss, sports engineer at RMIT University, is working with Kookaburra and Cricket Australia to develop a cricket ball that can help bowlers improve their skills. The ‘smart’ ball looks and weighs the same as a normal ball, but can measure spin rate, torque and change of direction when thrown.
When sports engineers aren’t working out how to boost an athlete’s performance, they are helping design sportswear aimed at preventing pain and injury.
Robert Leen, who is undertaking a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Deakin University, combined his passion for snowboarding and engineering to create a 3D-printed snowboard binding.
“Because snowboarding technology hasn’t changed much in 20 or 30 years, we were able to create something that wasn’t possible in the past,” Robert says. “There is a strong need to improve people’s understanding of the capabilities of new technologies and the types of products that can be developed.”
– Gemma Conroy
Engineering + Sports
YouTube: Catapult Sports
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Mechanical and Sports, University of Adelaide
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Electrical and Sports Engineering, Victoria University
Bachelor of Engineering Science in Sports Technology, Deakin University
Advanced Diploma of Engineering (Mechanical), TAFE NSW
Sports and Building Aerodynamics MOOC, Eindhoven University of Technology
Nike | Puma | Australian Cricketers’ Association | Football Federation Australia
Mechanical engineer $71,837
Materials engineer $70,589
Technical support engineer $66,256