Are you ready for some football? Because the NFL is ready for engineers.
The National Football League convened what it calls an Engineering Roadmap for the league. It has pledged $60 million over five years to study biomechanics and create safer equipment. A master’s degree in Engineering Management from Kettering University Online positions you for that dream NFL job.
The NFL is taking concussions seriously. A study published in the medical journal JAMA reported that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains donated to scientific research.
In response to the study, the league formed an Engineering Committee. The committee “includes a diverse and experienced group of technical experts — biomechanical engineers, biomedical engineers, material scientists — who study helmets, pads and other protective equipment to improve safety on the field. They engage in significant research designed to advance the development of protective equipment.”
If you’re looking to combine your engineering skills with a love of the game, a football engineering job could be in your future. The NFL engineering committee researches current trends in injury-recovery protocols while working on improving injury-prevention equipment.
Dr. Jeffrey Crandall heads the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine engineering subcommittee and its Engineering Roadmap program. On the NFL’s Play Smart, Play Safe website, Dr. Crandall explains the program. “The Engineering Roadmap is a comprehensive and dedicated plan to try and bring knowledge, research and tools together to develop and improve protective equipment for the head.” The goal is to have safer equipment in the next three to five years.
The committee offers resources for NFL players and retirees, as well as parents and coaches for players of all ages. The big push is on providing safety and recovery information on concussions and head, neck, and brain injuries. But, it doesn’t stop above the shoulders. We’ve all seen players suffer lower body injuries. The NFL Engineering committee also offers resources for players to protect their feet, ankles, and knees with appropriate shoes.
The Engineering Roadmap is a collaboration between the league, NFL Players Association’s engineering consultants, and scientists who specialize in injury research and prevention.
According to committee member Dr. Kristy Arbogast, using crash test dummies is one of the ways they are safely gathering data. She spoke at the HeadHealthTECH Symposium: Fundamental Biomechanics of Concussion in the NFL in Washington D.C.
"A key component of the engineering roadmap is to accurately measure the motion and acceleration the head experiences during play in the NFL by player position, to give design direction for protective equipment," Arbogast told the symposium. "To date, we have been doing that via video reconstructions and injury event recreations using crash test dummies. These approaches are incredibly time intensive and, by design, focus on 'events' that must be subjectively selected from game film or injury reports."
Another way NFL engineers are gathering data is through sensor technology. Players wear mouth guards or helmets armed with sensors to accurately record their head position and to measure impact.
Advances in helmet technology can already be seen on the field. The University of Washington, armed with investors such as Under Armour and Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, introduced what it calls “the nation’s top-performing football helmet.” It’s the Zero1, and for $1,500 it is available to professionals as well as high school and college teams. The University of Notre Dame pledged that the Zero1 will be the primary helmet for players in 2018. But, for many non-professional teams, the price tag is prohibitive.
There are less expensive options for younger athletes. Researchers at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab are working closely with the NFL’s committee to establish a standardized five-star rating system for helmets. They recommend two helmets from Riddell and Schutt that run between $235-$400.
The research will not only benefit football players, but other athletes. The International Sports Association hopes to apply this kind of research to rugby, soccer, hockey, and other high-impact sports.
The NFL, universities, and sports equipment companies are actively looking for engineers who want to merge their love of sports with their engineering skills. A Kettering Built degree can position you for these positions.