Major League Adjustments
Innovation still continues in the sporting world; this field is somewhat unique as it's an intimate mesh of physics, engineering and biology.
July 31, 2020
My family and I love watching the Olympic games. You can imagine how disappointed we were when the COVID-19 pandemic led organizers to push the games back a year. Not only that, but all other sports have either been cancelled, delayed or shifted to spectatorless facilities so that ESPN and Fox Sports have something to broadcast other than reruns of games we’ve already watched.
Of all of the changes that the pandemic has wrought, the lack of live sports has probably been the biggest disappointment for my children. They usually spend the summer playing rec league baseball, softball and soccer. Here in Cleveland, we’re a 15-minute drive from an Indians game, but we make even longer treks to take in minor league games, Major League Soccer in Columbus, minor league soccer on numerous college and high school football fields, and by late August my young son is already embracing the hope and heartbreak of the Cleveland Browns.
World events have gotten in the way, and my plans to tie this issue into the Olympic Games had to be set aside, along with my plans to fly to Florida, send my kids back to school in the fall, and have anything remotely resembling a normal week.
But innovation still continues in the sporting world, which is why we went ahead with our focus on sports engineering. This particular field is somewhat unique, in that it involves an intimate marriage of physics, engineering and biology. And as simulation technology, 3D scanning and 3D printing have advanced, the convergence of these tools has made it possible to create extremely effective sports apparel and equipment that can be tailored to individual athletes.
Innovation Under Pressure
In this issue, we’re highlighting a number of innovative use cases, from optimized prosthetics for athletes to more efficient prototyping processes for a motorized surfboard, and the ways that simulation is improving motorsports.
On a somewhat related note, writer Beth Stackpole takes a look at how advanced human body modeling is being leveraged across industries to improve person-machine interactions.
The fact that this type of innovation has continued despite the limitations placed on industry by the pandemic is indicative of just how resilient the engineering community has proven to be. As I write this, there have been major software releases from Ansys, Dassault Systèmes, Siemens Digital Industries Software and others. These new and upgraded tools had to be developed by widely dispersed teams working under less-than-ideal conditions, but they’ve made it across the finish line anyway.
As you’ll see in this issue, the CAASE20 event was also able to quickly pivot from a live to a virtual event. The organizers at NAFEMS pulled off a minor miracle, organizing hundreds of sessions in a very short time. You can read about it in our report, but the sessions are still available on demand here.
The designers and engineers using the tools highlighted at CAASE20 have also continued to innovate, finding ways to work from leveraging a new generation of high-performance workstations, cloud-based software, remote access solutions and flexible licensing programs.
That need for flexibility is only going to increase, as we are not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 spikes are shifting to other areas of the country, supply chain issues continue to dog certain sectors, there is a high degree of economic uncertainty and we’re still likely months away from any type of measurable improvement.
But it’s still summer. There is soccer (at least on TV). Baseball is about to start, and will be competing for viewers with a very late basketball season. The world is still turning, and our audience is still thriving and innovating.
As a reminder that hope still springs eternal, my son is also telling me that THIS could be the year the Browns finally make the playoffs.
Have a great summer, and I hope you enjoy the issue.