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Brothwell, Amanda
10-18-2009, 11:51 PM
PhD Research Studentships - 7 posts available
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing

Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and the Modelling of Sport and Health
Bursary 13,290
Tuition fees
Full time for 3 years
The Sports Engineering Research Group within the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing employs approximately 20 staff comprising research engineers, designers, sports scientists and PhD students. Clients include Adidas, Prince, Puma, UK Sport, British Swimming and the International Tennis Federation.

Following a very successful Research Assessment Exercise, the Sports Engineering Research Group in collaboration with the Health and Social Care Research Centre is seeking to recruit outstanding candidates to carry out multi-disciplinary PhD projects. The following projects are available immediately:

Biomechanics
The biomechanics of the golf swing;
The biomechanics of sports bras;
The dynamics of tennis shoe interactions with tennis courts.

Modelling
Pattern recognition in Olympic diving;
Optimal design of sports equipment using FE & CFD;
Modelling of cardio-vascular risk-reduction in discrete populations;
The effect of physical gaming interfaces on activity levels.


These projects will be suitable for applicants with a 1st or high 2i in a physical science such as Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Sports Science or a related discipline. Ideal candidates should not be afraid of mathematics, or programming and, in particular, we would like to hear from students with experience of MATLAB, image processing, computational fluid dynamics, finite elements analysis, biomechanics, and the support of elite athlete.

Candidates should be enthusiastic, have good analytical skills, tenacity and perseverance and be good in a team. An interest and knowledge of sport is desirable but not essential, as is direct experience of work in the sports sector.


Opportunities
The Sports Engineering Research Group and Health and Social Care Research Centre represent a fantastic opportunity for those seeking to gain experience of a multidisciplinary research environment and wish to have a career in the engineering, sport or health sectors. PhD students have the opportunity to travel overseas and support high profile consultancy projects within the groups.


Closing date: 9 November 2009
Competition will be strong and candidates are encouraged to consider more than one project. Interviewing will take place in November with a preferred start date by 1st January 2010.

In the first instance please submit a full CV to:

Amanda Brothwell

a.brothwell@shu.ac.uk

The Sports Engineering Research Group
Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing
A129 Collegiate Hall
Collegiate Crescent Campus
Sheffield
S10 2BP
Working towards equal opportunities


Project 1. The biomechanics of the golf swing (Dr Jon Wheat)

Details: Golf is a very popular sport played by over 35 million people world-wide. In addition to improving accuracy, a common concern of golfers is to maximise club head speed at the moment of impact with the ball. Various mechanisms by which a golfer might increase club head speed have been proposed but there is a lack of agreement in the literature. Indeed, in common with many sports movements, there seem to be a myriad ways to achieve high club head speeds during the golf swing. The project will investigate further - using both traditional and novel biomechanics techniques - different mechanisms exploited by golfers to achieve high club head speeds at the moment of impact.

Skills: The candidate should have a background in biomechanics or a related discipline and be confident with mathematics and data analysis. Further, experience of programming for data analysis (e.g. MATLAB) is desirable.



Project 2. The biomechanics of the breast and sports bra design (Prof Steve Haake and Dr Helen Crank)

Details: The motion of the breast during activity can lead to breast pain (mastalgia) and research has shown that excessive strain in the breast tissue is an indicator of this pain. This project will seek to analyse the mechanics of breast motion in different sized participants carrying out a variety of activities and relate it to subjective pain scores. The project, in collaboration with a major bra manufacturer and the University of Portsmouth, will determine the optimal characteristics of bras for women carrying out a variety of activities.

Skills: The project will require a mixture of experimental analysis and mathematical modelling and key skills needed will be: mechanics, mathematics, and Matlab programming.


Project 3. The dynamics of tennis shoe interactions with tennis courts (Prof Steve Haake, Dr Simon Choppin)

Details: The Sports Engineering Research Group has over 12 years of experience of tennis research in collaboration with the International Tennis Federation. This project will develop an existing shoe-surface tester to simulate the forces and motion of the foot during real tennis play. The tester will be used to look at the effects of different surface conditions leading to guidelines to be used by the International Tennis Federation for the regulation of court surfaces worldwide.

Skills: The project will require a mixture of experimental analysis and mathematical modelling and key skills needed will be: mechanics, biomechanics, mathematics, and Matlab programming. Experience of motion capture systems and electronic systems is desirable but not essential.



Project 4. Pattern recognition in Olympic diving (Dr Simon Goodwill)

Details: The Sports Engineering Research Group are developing a series of video capture systems that can be used to record the motion of athletes in training and competition environments, using high resolution/speed cameras. This PhD aims to extend this work by developing image processing algorithms to extract measurements from the video footage. The PhD will focus on diving, as the motion of a diver can easily be recorded and the field of view is constant. Typical measurements which would be extracted from these images are jump height from board, rate of rotation of diver and body position prior to water entry.

A suitable software interface will also be developed to provide instant feedback to the coaches, along with a method for storing information and videos for future recall.


Skills: The project will require a mixture of experimental analysis and mathematical modelling and key skills needed will be: mechanics, mathematics, and Matlab programming. Experience of motion capture systems and image processing techniques is desirable but not essential.



Project 5. Cycle Helmet Design, Maximum Protection, Maximum Comfort (Dr John Hart and Dr Tom Allen)

Details: The primary function of a sports helmet is to provide protection to the wearer from any potential impact injuries. However the helmet must still allow the wearer to be able to participate in the activity without causing discomfort through over heating due to physical exertion. One such sport where this is particularly important is cycling, where during competition the wearing of a helmet is mandatory. This project will investigate the impact resistance and cooling capabilities of cycle helmets, from existing commercially available designs, through to a proposed new design. The project will also attempt to answer questions such as, how much protection does a cycling helmet really provide? All helmets must now pass a CE safety test detailed in British Standards, however this is for a direct impact on the top centre of the helmet and takes no account of frontal, or side impacts. The majority of this study will be conducted using computational methods (FE, CFD, non-contact laser scanning) however this will be backed up and validated through experiment. The project will also attempt to use the knowledge gained in the investigation to design a new helmet parametrically using FE, CFD to provide maximum protection, maximum comfort.

The aim of this project is to use the latest engineering techniques to investigate current cycle helmet design, leading to the design of a new helmet offering optimum protection, optimum comfort.

Skills: The candidate must have a good engineering background, and demonstrate a strong understanding of mechanics, fluid/thermodynamics, design, computational and experimental techniques. An understanding, and basic use, of CAE techniques (CAD, FE, CFD) is a requisite, with the candidate demonstrating a strong understanding of at least either Finite Element, or Computational Fluid Dynamics.


Project 6. Modelling of cardio-vascular risk-reduction in discrete populations (Prof Steve Haake, Prof Malcolm Whitfield)

Details: Cardio-vascular disease is strongly related to a number of risk factors: blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and the prevalence of smoking and diabetes. Estimates of the mean risk factors for a population can be used to calculate the burden of disease in terms of deaths, heart attacks and cost to the health service. Such an approach requires a solid understanding of the interactions between the parameters controlling the risk factors and their link to cardio-vascular disease. These include the population distribution of the group, the existing level of risk, the cost of care in different regions etc.

The aim of this project is to model the inputs and output of the problem allowing any intervention to produce an estimate of the cost of future care related to cardio-vascular disease. This will be incorporated into a software tool called SHEFFTOOL (Sheffield, Health EFFectiveness TOOL).

Skills: The project will require a good level of mathematics and programming (.net, C, C++ or similar). An interest in health would be an advantage


Project 7. The effect of physical gaming interfaces on activity levels (Dr Ben Heller and Prof Malcolm Whitfield)

Details: Cardio-vascular disease is strongly related to a number of risk factors: blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and the prevalence of smoking and diabetes. Estimates of the mean risk factors for a population can be used to calculate the burden of disease in terms of deaths, heart attacks and cost to the health service.

A model is being developed to determine the effect of specific interventions on these risk factors and thus on the ultimate cost. However, there are many types of intervention e.g. infrastructure such as play equipment or sports facilities, housing, sports and activity motivation schemes, etc. in which the effect of the intervention needs to be assessed.

A smart floor has been developed which interacts with dancers and can be installed in a variety of settings. The aim of this project is to develop algorithms to extract individual movement patterns from the ground-contact data and to develop software applications driven by these data. The smart-floor system will be trialled with the following populations: a) mixed-age, no pathology, b) obese young people, c) older people with balance deficits over a medium term period (6-8 weeks). Levels of activity and risk factors before and after the intervention will be determined and used to inform the SHEFFTOOL cost-benefit model.

Skills: The essential requirement is a good first degree in a numerate subject (physics, maths, engineering or related subject). Experience of software development and/or computer animation will be needed. Knowledge of machine learning techniques. Familiarity with life sciences is desirable.