A collision of talent

This spring, students from science, engineering, math and other technical majors came together with student-athletes as part of the introductory Sports Tech Collider Sprint course, offered by the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET). Divided into teams of 3–5 people, students were tasked with developing an idea that combined technology and innovation with a goal to create competitive advantages for athletes and sports teams.

Illustration of football player running with a ball“We’re for the first time taking some of our best, brightest science, technology, engineering, math students on campus and putting them in a classroom with some of our best student-athletes,” said Stephen Torres, a SCET industry fellow who came up with the idea.

The results were, to use Torres’ word, amazing. Expecting maybe 15–20 students, more than 60 expressed interest and about 30 were eventually accepted. Under Armour even signed on as a sponsor.

For students like Evan Rambo, a legal studies major and safety for the Cal football team, the course was a way to explore his interests in injury prevention and player movement. He and his team — which included Sahil Hasan, an electrical engineering and computer sciences major, and Tushar Mittal, a chemical biology and materials science and engineering major — focused on developing wearable technology for football players. Gloves were fitted with microchips to aid with technique analysis, allowing players and coaches to evaluate performance aspects that might not be captured on video.

The team ended up taking first place in the course’s final presentations, as well as SCET’s prestigious Collider Cup. As for what’s next, Rambo, Mittal and Hasan plan to keep working together to develop their model, with the hope of making it a fully marketable product someday.

And with an expanded version of the Sports Tech Collider being offered this fall, expect another good cross section of students to begin creating new and impactful sports-related technology, as well.

“It’s not just athletics. It’s not just academics,” Torres said. “It’s really [all of] us working in sync.”

Adapted from an article published in the Summer 2018 edition of Cal Sports Quarterly

Topics: Competitions, Devices & inventions, Students

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