Presenting: “Validation of a finite element modelling process for auxetic structures in sports applications”

The ISEA kindly granted me the full funding of £500, which enabled me to attend the 9th International Conference and the 14th International Workshop on Auxetics and Related System with ‘Negative’ Characteristics. The conference was held at Sheffield Hallam University between the 10th and 13th September and the ISEA funding enabled me to pay the registration/attendance fees, as well as train tickets for the commute between Manchester and Sheffield each day.

The conference was well organised with delegates from over 15 countries presenting their work. I was therefore given the opportunity to present my latest findings (and receive valued feedback) to an array of experts from different areas within the auxetics field, which I enjoyed greatly, and it has provided fresh inspiration to continue working hard on my research. The conference also enabled me to network with various delegates who work on similar topics, such as finite element modelling and additive manufacturing. Hopefully, some form of collaboration can arise from this networking. I am looking forward to attending the next auxetics conference in Poznan, Poland, in 2019, where I should be able to deliver some key and final findings from my PhD. Some of the feedback received during the conference has also provided me with some alternative viewpoints on my research, which hopefully I can investigate in more detail in the coming months.

Despite living relatively close to Sheffield, I have never had the chance see the city properly. Fortunately, we were taken on a very informative and entertaining walking tour on one of the afternoons and even saw a building whose design looked as it was inspired by auxetic structures. The conference meal at the famous ‘Cutlers Hall’ was also an experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
All of this was made possible by the full support of the ISEA and meant that I could completely immerse myself in the experience of an international conference once more – thank you very much.


Spinfortec conference in Garching, Munich

As a master student at the UAS Technikum in Vienna we annually have a measurement week in winter where students can choose topics to work on with own interest. The topic I was working on with some colleges had the title “in-situ tests with touring skins”. Focus of this project was to detect the static and sliding friction coefficient considering different touring skins in the glide and the grip direction of a skin. We had companies sponsoring us with touring skins and supporting our project.

Finally I got accepted at the spinfortec conference in Munich to present our project. At the congress I had the chance to attend a lot of interesting presentations regarding sports engineering, biomechanics and sport analytics. I am continuously inspired how wide the topic is I am studying for. I met professors from different universities in Germany and had a talk with representatives of different companies who were sponsor of the congress. Presenting my work at the conference allowed me to improve my presenting skills, handle better my nervousness and also broadened my network with people of the sports engineering industry. I had a talk with one of the professors after my presentation and he was really interested and told me about similar studies he undertook. The most important thing about attending conferences is networking! The talks I had have all little relevance to my future career.
By supporting my participation of the congress I covered all the costs regarding entrance fee, travel costs as well as accommodation. I also could take part in the “munich evening” where everybody of the conference (lecturers and students) had dinner together at a relaxed atmosphere. Thank you for supporting me!


The effect of the bend on global kinetic and temporal variables during the block phase of the sprint start

The ISEA student Engagement Award was used to help subsidise my transport and accommodation costs while visiting German Sport University Cologne to loan custom-made instrumented starting blocks and corresponding software to be used for my 1st PhD study.

As a result of the trip, a collaboration is emerging with Dr Steffen Willwacher, firstly to investigate the differences between global kinetic (average external block power and ground reaction forces (GRFs) in all three planes of motion) and temporal (contact time in the blocks) variables during the block phase of the sprint start on the bend and the straight. Ten sprinters, all experienced in bend sprinting (200 m PBs ranged 21.40 – 23.20 s), completed three 10 m maximal effort sprints on the straight and three 10 m maximal effort sprints on the bend in lane 1 (radius 36.5 m). The sprinters all started from the instrumented starting blocks. Results showed that there were no differences in the performance variables including total push time and normalised average horizontal block power. For the front block, external force production in the vertical and resultant forces were significantly different. On the bend, the mediolateral forces in both blocks were directed more towards the centre of the track. The results demonstrated that in the starting blocks, the bend does not impact on performance variables but technique in applying force changes.

The study will be written up with the aim of it being published in the Journal of Sports Sciences. My abstract has also been accepted as a free communication presentation as the BASES Conference 2018 in Harrogate.

Dr Steffen Willwacher will be an external member of my PhD supervisory team. The opportunity to meet with the researchers and engineers at the German Sport University Cologne and discuss how novel sports engineering projects and collaborations might be developed further was a very valuable experience. I was also given the opportunity to speak at a seminar during the visit, a fantastic opportunity for feedback on my work. During the trip, I was shown around the University and their facilities, the starting blocks, the set-up and how to use the equipment.

The collaboration with Steffen allowed access to state-of-the-art equipment for data collection, which will advance our understanding of the reasons for performance decreases on the bend, compared with the straight. I would like to thank Steffen Willwacher and the ISEA for the opportunity to visit German Sport University Cologne, borrow the equipment and develop collaboration with an academic who is well published in another country. This has been valuable experience as I look towards completing my PhD.

Instrumented Starting Blocks

Instrumented Starting Blocks


Measuring behaviour conference 2018

The primary use of the funding was to attend the Measuring Behaviour conference at MMU including travel. The conference was based around the study of human and animal behaviour, a day was also dedicated to sports engineering which gave an insight into how I could carry on my studies in this field. The event was multi-disciplinary with a variety of researchers, I attended many talks over the 3 days learning about software/hardware that is in development stages and asked could it be used in sports engineering once completed. It was a device designed to limit lumbar issues by alerting the user that they are in a ‘dangerous’ position throughout the day. On the sports engineering day I displayed my final year project poster concerning the degradation of running shoes, this got some interest as it was a novel method of testing that people hadn’t expected and changed the way they thought about how the shoes degrade through use. Some of the interest also started debates between couples saying “I told you so” to their partners.
The most important thing about attending conferences is networking, many of the talks had very little relevance to my future career and some were extremely complex and hard to follow. During the breaks and events following the talks I began talking to an array of people, one of these people was asking me about my project and said they had a contact in industry who may be interested in my report and findings. Nothing came of it this time, but it might have, the more contacts and chances you have the more likely you are to find a career.


Application of inertial sensors as a method of monitoring fatigue in boxing

The ISEA Student Engagement Award was used in order to help me subsidise my transport and accommodation costs while participating in a Sports Engineering internship based at Griffith University, Nathan Campus. Having access to the ISEA grant was extremely beneficial for me as it allowed me more financial stability when settling into my role as a sports engineering intern in Australia.

Upon completion of the placement a full report on the analysis on the placement of inertial sensors on the body and their application for monitoring fatigue in boxing was submitted to Griffith University. Our initial hypothesis for the use of the inertial sensor located at thoracic vertebrae 3 (T3) was as follows: 1) The sensor data obtained would be suitable to replace the wrist sensors used in prior studies to measure acceleration, gyration and magnetometer readings 2) Distinguish between a right and left punch being thrown 3) detect fatigue occurring in an athlete and 4) identify when a punch has landed and its attenuation throughout the body. The two participants used were elite level athletes competing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and tests were performed in training involving a fixed wall bag, a trainer using focus pads and sparring sessions
From the study we were able to determine the IMU sensor placed at T3 was indeed suitable for monitoring boxing performance in various scenarios and determining left/right punches was possible along with their corresponding magnitudes. It was deemed the use of the T3 sensor was favourable due to it being place in a less invasive position. However there was less success when monitoring fatigue levels during these trials and the results from the study were inconclusive.

I would like to thank Griffith University and the ISEA for their support throughout my placement the opportunity to study and complete a research project in another country has been a valuable experience for me as I look towards completing my degree.


Using inertial measurement units to investigate visual exploration in a novel football passing task

After presenting at the European College of Sport Science congress in Dublin, I travelled to Germany to collaborate with Adam Beavan (Saarland University/UTS PhD candidate) on a research project. I would like to thank the ISEA Student Engagement Award for funding this component of my trip. The funding helped cover the costs of transport and accommodation, allowing this project to go ahead.

The data collection involved the quantification of exploratory head movement using inertial measurement units while football players completed a novel football passing task. With this data, we will investigate how the exploratory action before players receive a pass influences their ability to perform a subsequent pass. Data analysis will involve the synchronisation of the IMU data with video footage, coding of video footage and processing of the IMU data with a custom designed algorithm. The output will give an understanding of various qualities of exploratory action and how these influence subsequent actions with the ball. This is a relatively new area of research, so the findings will go a long way to informating our understanding of visual exploration in football.

The collaboration with Adam allowed access to high level players for data collection, which will give an excellent insight into how highly skilled athletes use visual information to guide passing actions in football. This investigation is the first of many potential collaborations, even after both Adam and I complete our PhD studies, and the ISEA has played a significant role in making this possible.

Adam (left) and Tom (right) enjoying a drink after the ECSS congress

The facilities used for data collection in Germany


Kinematics and feature negotiating feedback system in a ski cross start and run: a methodological study

As a Msc student in Sport technology at Aalborg University, for my Master thesis project I investigated a method to develop a performance feedback system for ski cross skiers and coaches. My supervisor was Professor Uwe Kersting and the project was in collaboration with the Swedish Ski Cross Team. I want to say thank you to the ISEA for funding this project. The funds were used to cover the travel and living expenses for one month in Are, Sweden.

Three elite skiers of the Swedish Ski Cross Team participated to this study. The equipment was composed by a wearable IMU-based motion capture system to collect the skiers’ kinematic data, and two GNSS sensors to collect the skier’spositioning data along the full ski cross course. The test course included all the features typical of a ski cross run, such as turns, jumps, rollers, banks and negative turns. The mobile sensor was integrated in the back protector and worn by the subjects, and the base sensor was placed at the start. The positioning data from the two sensors were post-processed together to increase the data accuracy by applying the relative positioning technique. The files containing the kinematic data were then converted into c3d files and fused with the files containing the positioning data into a new c3d file in MATLAB. The new c3d file was successively imported in Visual3D, where the kinematic data of interest, i.e. the pelvis-feet distance along the three anatomical axes, and the pelvis and feet trajectory along the whole run were analysed.


An insight into how the use of Inertial Measurement Unit sensors can play a role in shot classification in cricket batting

My research work at Griffith university gave an insight into how inertial sensors can be used in the game of cricket. Trialling these sensors firstly with bowling but completing my final report on batting. As researchers we looked at placing an inertial sensor on the thoracic vertebra to see what data could be recorded. This was the most practical and viable place to put a sensor as it can be used in a real game scenario. After using two elite batsman in manipulated and real game trials we recorded data onto a bought software to interpret it (Matlab). Our findings showed that when batsman’s recorded data in manipulated trials patterns emerged which could be identified and quantified. A sensor seemed to be able to detect when a ball was hit and trends on graphs could indicate what type of shot was played (shot classification). However, data recorded in a real game scenario was more problematic. Due to the numerous degrees of freedom in cricket batting it was problematic to interpret output graphs, especially when compared to the initial trials. In the future we hope that the sensors improve in order to record accurate and higher ranged data.

Overall, a big step was taken in this specific field and the idea holds huge viability in the game of cricket. Hopefully the next step is for my written up paper to be published and cricket teams become aware of the potential these sensors have in the future to record quick information elite players need when batting. Work on the IMU sensors at Griffith is ever increasing and improving to produce a exceptional IMU sensor.


William Dawber

Characterisation of tennis racket parameters – Wimbledon AELTC.

The grant allowed me to assist Dr. Luca Taraborelli with the research for his paper on the historical development of tennis rackets from codification in the 1870s until present day.

Myself and Dr. Taraborelli visited the All England Lawn Tennis Club where we had the privilege of working in the Wimbledon Tennis Museum, here we had access to around 1000 tennis rackets dating back to the 1870s. During the week-long trip we were able to evaluate around 100 of these rackets on several parameters including geometric, inertial, dynamic and manufacturing properties. My role was to take measurements on racket swing speed and calculate values of transverse and polar moment of inertia for each of the rackets. All of this data is now being documented alongside a further 300 other rackets already tested in order to investigate the effects these changes in design have had on performance. Going forward I plan to continue my work with Dr. Taraborelli to further aid in the production of his paper by helping with research and testing.

I am a BEng Sport Technology undergraduate at Sheffield Hallam University with an ambition to further research in Sports Engineering. This trip provided me with valuable hands-on experience testing sports equipment, furthered my understanding of correct research procedures and boosted my knowledge of design development and the effects it has on performance.
The first outcomes of this project were presented at the ISEA 2018 conference in Brisbane and were appreciated by the audience. Since our trip, Dr. Taraborelli presented his updated results at the ISEA sponsored Sport Engineering Seminar Day at Manchester Metropolitan University on the 2nd May 2018 where I was in attendance. It was great to see the reception he received for his hard work and how the Sport Engineering community is continuously growing and demonstrating its impact on industry.

Thank you to the ISEA for their generous funding. Without this, the trip would not have been possible for me. The funding paid for return travel from Manchester to London, accommodation near to the club, food and drink for the week and transport in London. The experience I have gained has been priceless and I hope to use this as a building block to one day make impact on the Sport Engineering community.


2nd Sports Engineering Seminar Day – 2nd May 2018 – Manchester Metropolitan University

On Wednesday 2nd May 2018, Manchester Metropolitan University held a Sports Engineering Seminar Day, which was organised and run by PhD students from the university. The ISEA and IET sponsored the event. Our aim was to promote Sports Engineering in an academic environment, raise awareness of the subject and disseminate work in this field within the UK.

The day began with a tour of facilities including the Manchester Fashion Institute, Print City (Additive Manufacturing), engineering workshops and human movement lab. There were four key themed sessions throughout the day including ‘Sports Apparel and Biomechanics’, ‘Health and Injury Prevention’, ‘Simulation in Sports’ and ‘Materials and Equipment Mechanics’. We had industry speakers from Pentland Brands (Speedo & Canterbury), Defence Science and Technology Laboratories and ANSYS, as well as academics and PhD students from UK universities – Manchester Metropolitan, Loughborough, Sheffield Hallam, Chichester and Strathclyde.

Over 110 people from 12 universities, 11 companies and students from a local college joined us for the day, attracting new audiences to Sports Engineering. There were prizes awarded for best student presentation (including Speedo prize), best poster, two student engagement awards and best tweet. Our twitter feed for the day can be found @SportsEngUK or using the #SESday. Feedback forms (and discussions) indicated the event was again very well received, although some people would have liked fewer talks to allow more time for discussion. There was clear interest to continue making this an annual event in the Sports Engineering calendar, and Loughborough University will take on the role of host in 2019. We would like different institutes to host the event on a rotational basis, facilitating travel from different areas of the UK while helping to keep the event fresh, encouraging new industry partners, and university students and staff to attend. Continued interest in the event will help to build up a UK hub of sports engineers, inspiring a new generation to come through and join the ISEA. We would also like to set up a community for all Sports Engineering PhD students to communicate and share ideas, with possible funding going towards further networking.

Finally, we would like to thank the ISEA for sponsoring the event, without the sponsorship it wouldn’t be possible. I believe many people made new contacts and explored new collaborative projects in turn growing the sports engineering community in the UK.
Some quotes from the day:
“#SESday @sportsengUK. It is obvious that the importance of Engineering will always help improve sports in general and help to strengthen unity & love all over world, ethnic groups, professionals & educational backgrounds. Thus, kudos to the organisers of Sports Engineering seminar. Great event. Looking forward to the next one soon.” – Student
“Thanks to everyone for all the hard work making the event a success, I thought it was great. Hopefully if there is another seminar next year I’ll finally be able to stay for the drinks afterwards!” – Industry representative
“Thanks again for inviting me to present at the seminar. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and I’ve benefited from gaining a number of new contacts and research insights.” – Industry representative
“Thank you and well done for ensuring the presentations and day ran smoothly yesterday, not an easy task. We look forward to welcoming you to Loughborough next year.” – Academic Lecturer