Sports is physics in motion — a concept that students will explore this weekend at Texas A&M’s fifth “Aggies Invent” competition.
Aggies Invent is a 48-hour design competition that gathers students from across Texas A&M to solve design challenges centered around a theme. This year students are challenged to enhance the experiences of athletes and fans.
Roughly 60 students will attempt to answer “need statements” provided by coaches, athletic trainers and industry experts that center on everything from improved football helmets to movement trackers.
“We’re working with the kinesiology and athletics departments to design some technology that will aid both athletes as well as people who are interested in sports, in doing better workouts, in being able to do workouts more safely, and to be able to increase performance,” said Rodney Boehm, Aggies Invent director.
Aggies Invent takes need statements from experts in the theme’s industry and hands them off to the participating students to try and engineer a solution. Boehm said this weekend’s Aggies Invent includes a need statement from former A&M baseball player Chad Allen, who currently works with the Minnesota Twins coaching staff.
“[Chad] says, ‘It’s really cold in Minnesota,’” Boehm said with a laugh. “One of the things they’d like us to do is figure out if we could build batting gloves or sliding shorts or some kind of athletic gear that could keep them warm during spring training.”
Other sports needs that the participating students will tackle include football helmets that offer increased protection against head trauma, systems to rapidly detect fluid and electrolyte levels and detectors to track athlete movement to improve training and rehabilitation.
Boehm said while Aggies Invent chooses its themes based on industry need and relevance to students, March’s design challenge resonates particularly well with Texas A&M.
“We choose themes that we believe will be of interest to students that are a variety of different kinds of things, and that are relevant to Texas A&M University,” Boehm said. “Sports fell right into those categories — a lot of people are interested in sports. Texas A&M has a lot of different sports teams, a very strong Kinesiology Department, very strong athletic training, and it was just a natural for us to fall into that.”
The participating students will gather at the Engineering Innovation Center — a 20,000 square foot prototyping lab on A&M’s campus — Friday through Sunday for the event. Final designs are presented at 4 p.m. Sunday.