BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Mechanical engineering professors at LSU are working to make a new protective helmet.
According to a release from LSU, the NFL held a helmet conference in 2019 where engineers, manufacturers, and innovators collaborated to create a safer helmet.
LSU Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Hunter Gilbert attended the conference and began working on a prototype with other LSU Professors, Genevieve Palardy and Warren Waggenspack.
“We started working on our own ideas in 2020 after being introduced to the problem, and we’ve continued to work towards improving helmet performance since then,” Gilbert said. “We quickly realized that the problem extends far beyond American football, although that is probably the most visible market for the general public. The project’s goal is to produce a helmet that outperforms all other helmets on the market today, specifically regarding protection and isolation from head impacts.”
After three years, the prototype is almost done and ready for testing.
“We intend to have a first prototype helmet incorporating new technology and ready for testing by the summer of 2024,” said Gilbert. “The design process is iterative, though, and we expect that what we learn from the testing of the first prototype will lead to additional [research and development] and further improvements.”
Since the start of the prototype, more people contributed to the creation, according to LSU. The team gained another mechanical engineer, Andrew Becnel, a manufacturing staff from Noble Plastics who helped design the prototype, and members of the LSU Athletic staff informed the group of some key features and concerns related to a football helmet.
The university states the helmet project is being funded by grants from the LSU Board of Supervisors via the LIFT2 program, the Louisiana Board of Regents via the Proof of Concept/Prototyping (PoC/P) program, and LaSPACE via the Graduate Student Research Assistance program.