SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Stackify Blog, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

News Feed Item

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Students Gain Foothold with New Athletic Shoe Sole

Sports shoe designed to protect athletes from ACL tears and other non-contact knee and ankle injuries; Student team receives more than $400,000 from angel investment group to develop prototype and test performance

WORCESTER, Mass., Oct. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- A team of student engineers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a working prototype of a new type of sports shoe sole designed to reduce the incidence of non-contact knee and ankle injuries in organized sports. The shoe is a response to the large number of ankle and knee injuries—notably to the knee's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—that plague amateur and professional athletes.

The WPI team is building, testing, and evaluating preliminary prototypes of the shoe in October and November. They hope to produce about 10 pairs in campus labs by January for further testing on the court. A larger trial production run is expected early in 2019.

According to the Journal of Athletic Training, the knee joint is the "…second most commonly injured body site after the ankle and the leading cause of sports-related injuries," with more than 43,000 injuries occurring in high school athletes each year in a recent five-year period.

Researchers say the most common causes for ACL injury are landing from a jump, decelerating, and planting and pivoting off the foot.

The WPI shoe works by limiting loads to the ankle and knee, where many injuries occur. The key design element is a set of "goat's-head springs"—tiny flexible polymer pieces whose name is a reference to WPI's mascot. The springs are curled like goat's horns, wrapping around posts that restrain, or localize, their deformation. The shoe recovers its initial configuration between steps, and the user may not notice that the shoe has responded to a potentially dangerous situation.

"The idea is that work from the effort exerted when someone is running and cutting would be absorbed by deforming the springs instead of tearing an ACL or spraining an ankle," said Christopher Brown, professor of mechanical engineering, who is guiding the student team.

Brown has long been interested in preventing sports injuries. An All-American skier as an undergraduate at the University of Vermont in the early 1970s, he went on to do his graduate studies there. He worked with an orthopedics research group, who found an alarming increase in ACL injuries among skiers. In 1983, they presented a study on a new skiing-specific mechanism for ACL injuries to the International Society for Skiing Safety.

To develop early prototypes, the WPI team used a band saw to slice the sole horizontally, and install a low-friction interface where the load transfer is controlled by the goat's head springs.

The shoe design, for which WPI has received an initial U.S. patent, has captured the attention of longtime entrepreneur Ed Cowle, an angel investor and CEO of New York-based Sports Engineering, Inc. (SEI).

SEI has invested in excess of $400,000 in the shoe project, which is helping support research by undergraduate and graduate students and development of a prototype. SEI has an exclusive license to the patent as well as future intellectual property from WPI. WPI holds equity and will receive royalties on the shoe.

Cowle believes the invention addresses a gap within the shoe industry. "There's not a lot of technical innovation in the athletic footwear space," he said. "This disruptive technology fills a specific need, given the increasing number of ankle and knee injuries in sports."

The basic mechanism and components can be adapted to shoes specialized for many different sports. Additionally, this platform technology could potentially be added to footwear used in hiking, rehabilitation, and other activities.

Jessica Shelsky, who received a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering from WPI in 2012 and a master's in mechanical engineering in 2014, was a member of a student team, advised by Brown, that developed the shoe's original design. "It was an amazing experience to be a part of a project from the early concept phase all the way to the first prototype developed," she said.

She said the other members of her project team, Michael Doyle '12 and Nicholas Workman '12, brought various strengths to the effort. "Without this diverse group we would not have been as successful in developing a solution that could be patented and further developed," said Shelsky, who now works as a senior manufacturing engineer for a medical technology company.

Todd Keiller, director of Intellectual Property and Innovation at WPI, said he is impressed with the project's business scope and health benefits. "This is a student project that has attracted angel funding, which is bridging the development gap between what a shoe company is willing to invest in versus the stage of our original prototype," he said. "It will be great to see a student project turn into a product on the market that will hopefully protect many athletes."

Eleven undergraduates worked on the project this summer, funded through the investment from SEI. They are seniors Alex Alvarez (aerospace engineering) from Sellersville, Penn., Kyle Mudge (biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering) from Cumberland, R.I.; Tristin Carlton (mechanical engineering and materials science) from Coventry, R.I.; Ben Aldrich (biomedical engineering) from Rumford, R.I.; Julia Dunn (biomedical engineering) from Jericho, Vt.; Paula Sardi (mechanical engineering) from Cali, Colombia; junior Josephine Bowen (mechanical engineering) from Lunenburg, Mass.; sophomores Eric Motler (mechanical engineering) from Albany, N.Y.; Colin McNamara (mechanical engineering) from Arlington, Mass.; Nate DeSisto (mechanical engineering) from Orono, Maine; and Mary Kandaras (mechanical engineering) from Arlington, Mass.

WPI graduate students working on the project are Allysa Grant '18 from Framingham, Mass., and Jimmy Muller '18 from Medford, N.J. Additionally, WPI has had the support of three students from École Nationale d'Ingénieurs de Saint-Étienne (ENISE) in France; Corentin Roland, Valentin Delache, and Axelle Vialette.

To learn more about the WPI student team working on the project, read this profile in The Daily Herd.

 

SOURCE Worcester Polytechnic Institute

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Docker and Kubernetes are key elements of modern cloud native deployment automations. After building your microservices, common practice is to create docker images and create YAML files to automate the deployment with Docker and Kubernetes. Writing these YAMLs, Dockerfile descriptors are really painful and error prone.Ballerina is a new cloud-native programing language which understands the architecture around it - the compiler is environment aware of microservices directly deployable into infra...
Signs of a shift in the usage of public clouds are everywhere. Previously, as organizations outgrew old IT methods, the natural answer was to try the public cloud approach; however, the public platform alone is not a complete solution. Complaints include unpredictable/escalating costs and mounting security concerns in the public cloud. Ultimately, public cloud adoption can ultimately mean a shift of IT pains instead of a resolution. That's why the move to hybrid, custom, and multi-cloud will ...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
10ZiG Technology is a leading provider of endpoints for a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure environment. Our fast and reliable hardware is VMware, Citrix and Microsoft ready and designed to handle all ranges of usage - from task-based to sophisticated CAD/CAM users. 10ZiG prides itself in being one of the only companies whose sole focus is in Thin Clients and Zero Clients for VDI. This focus allows us to provide a truly unique level of personal service and customization that is a rare find in th...
Signs of a shift in the usage of public clouds are everywhere Previously, as organizations outgrew old IT methods, the natural answer was to try the public cloud approach; however, the public platform alone is not a complete solutionThe move to hybrid, custom, and multi-cloud will become more and more prevalent At the heart of this technology trend exists a custom solution to meet the needs and concerns of these organizations, including compliance, security, and cost issues Blending Ser...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
When a company wants to develop an application, it must worry about many aspects: selecting the infrastructure, building the technical stack, defining the storage strategy, configuring networks, setting up monitoring and logging, and on top of that, the company needs to worry about high availability, flexibility, scalability, data processing, machine learning, etc. Going to the cloud infrastructure can help you solving these problems to a level, but what if we have a better way to do things. ...
Docker is sweeping across startups and enterprises alike, changing the way we build and ship applications. It's the most prominent and widely known software container platform, and it's particularly useful for eliminating common challenges when collaborating on code (like the "it works on my machine" phenomenon that most devs know all too well). With Docker, you can run and manage apps side-by-side - in isolated containers - resulting in better compute density. It's something that many developer...
The KCSP program is a pre-qualified tier of vetted service providers that offer Kubernetes support, consulting, professional services and training for organizations embarking on their Kubernetes journey. The KCSP program ensures that enterprises get the support they're looking for to roll out new applications more quickly and more efficiently than before, while feeling secure that there's a trusted and vetted partner that's available to support their production and operational needs.
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It's clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Th...
xMatters helps enterprises prevent, manage and resolve IT incidents. xMatters industry-leading Service Availability platform prevents IT issues from becoming big business problems. Large enterprises, small workgroups, and innovative DevOps teams rely on its proactive issue resolution service to maintain operational visibility and control in today's highly-fragmented IT environment. xMatters provides toolchain integrations to hundreds of IT management, security and DevOps tools. xMatters is the ...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
If you are part of the cloud development community, you certainly know about “serverless computing,” almost a misnomer. Because it implies there are no servers which is untrue. However the servers are hidden from the developers. This model eliminates operational complexity and increases developer productivity. We came from monolithic computing to client-server to services to microservices to the serverless model. In other words, our systems have slowly “dissolved” from monolithic to function-...
Serverless Computing or Functions as a Service (FaaS) is gaining momentum. Amazon is fueling the innovation by expanding Lambda to edge devices and content distribution network. IBM, Microsoft, and Google have their own FaaS offerings in the public cloud. There are over half-a-dozen open source serverless projects that are getting the attention of developers.