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COVID-19: UW researcher helping to design new helmet for NFL

The helmets will be put through an evaluation next July
University of Waterloo Warriors football
Photo credit: U Sports

One University of Waterloo researcher and his team have been awarded $412,000 (US) to design safer helmets for the National Football League (NFL).

The project is part of an NFL initiative called 'HeadTechHealth Helmet Challenge,' which aims to encourage manufacturers, academics and other experts to create better helmets using the latest technology.

The NFL has given over $1.4 million (US) to four designs, which will all compete to receive $1 million (US) for the best designed helmet.

According to a release from the university, Waterloo Engineering professor Duane Cronin and members from his lab, Impact Mechanics and Material Characterization Group, are working with Detroit-based football equipment manufacturer, Xenith, to have these new helmets ready for testing by next July. 

“We’ve got a short time to turn this around, so we can’t use a traditional build-and-break approach,” said Cronin in the release. “It has to involve a virtual design that allows us to optimize, get it right the first time and produce a physical helmet.”

Cronin is a Canada Research Chair in Trauma Biomechanics and Injury Prevention who has worked with the NFL for several years to create leading virtual models that are used by manufacturers and researchers in the field.

Now, Cronin and his associates will use virtual models themselves to optimize helmet performance, and reduce the risk of head injuries, through impact testing and advanced computer modelling.

“We get to use our own design tool and other next-generation technology to see this through to the development of a real helmet,” Cronin said in the release. “It’s not just an academic project. We’ve got an opportunity to help make the best helmet out there.”

- KitchenerToday/Rogers Media




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