In my 25+ year professional career, I have had the opportunity to work on a number of Advanced Research and Innovation projects. The skills learned in each project have aided in my professional growth and allowed me to handle increasing responsibility for all future projects. My specialization has allowed to me to use advanced measurement technologies, techniques, and processes to solve the most difficult engineering challenges and to create innovative product and performance solutions. Following is a reverse chronological history of my professional project experience.
1.) Blast Motion – I was recruited to Blast Motion to help advance their baseball hitting solution for use in assessment and development programs at both the MLB level as well as down market. I have also worked on the golf solution (Putt, Short Game, Full Swing), the Blast Vision computer vision solution, as well as lead research initiatives into creation of next generation solutions in athletic performance and pitching/throwing markets.
As Director of Sport Science at Blast Motion, I identified 6 key pillars for all sport science initiatives conducted within our Advanced Research & Development Group.
- Optimize Performance While Minimizing Injury Risk
- Identification of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Measurement of Coordination & Control Patterns With Appropriate Models
- Assess Neuromuscular Function for Sport-Specific Motions
- Provide Appropriate and Relevant Biofeedback
- Knowledge of Results (KR) Training Using External Cues
- Knowledge of Performance (KP) Training Provided as KR Feedback
- Audible Biofeedback for Improved Motor Learning
- Accelerate Dynamic Skill Acquisition
- Assessment Using Most Relevant KPIs – Where The Athlete is At
- Identification of Normative Levels – Where the Athlete Needs to Be
- Prescriptive Training Using Appropriate Constraints-Based Training with Biofeedback – How Does Athlete Get There
- Technology Integration
- Business Development (BD) Strategic Partnerships
- Provide Differentiating Assessment Capabilities
- Maximize Portability and Cost Reduction to Maximize Market Penetration
- Experiment and Scale
- Rapid Design, Prototyping and Testing Capabilities
- Accelerated Innovation Pipeline – Phase 0 Concepts
- Strategic Partnership Feedback to Accelerate Development
- Domain Expertise
- Provide Technical Education to Market
- Analytical Differentiation to Competitors
- Share Knowledge About Accelerated Skill Acquisition
- Developed a dynamic swing model based upon motion tracking data from an IMU sensor without any static calibration requirements. Utilized dynamic calibration estimation of gravity during quiet time prior to initiation of swing to provide some world reference to the IMU positional data.
- Estimated Center of Rotation (COR) for the swing by using a mathematical model to determine 3 equidistant lines from the hand path positional data (sensor positional data projected on rigid body to assumed hand spot at a point 6″ from the knob of the bat) for 3 points in time during the latter half of the swing to limit the effects of off plane motion contribution.
- Developed a 2 lever model of the swing for each point in time (0.002 seconds at 500 Hz sampling rate) by creating a body level from the COR to the hand spot and a second lever coincident with the long axis of the bat (from the knob of the bat to the end of the bat).
- Developed a hinge angle measurement to approximate wrist function in the swing, specifically radial/ulnar deviation which provides the speed build-up during the swing and is related to commit time when the wrists unhinge.
- Developed coordination and control KPIs related to Rotation, Plane, and Connection (RPC). Rotational Acceleration (RA) provides central nervous system (CNS) insights into a hitter’s rotational capabilities comprised of sequencing and direction and timing of load. Planar Efficiency (PE) provides CNS insights into how stable a hitter’s arms/wrists are during the downswing. Connection provides CNS insights into how a hitter adjusts to different pitch locations.
- Developed advanced baseball insights by providing normative scoring values for RPC by level of play. Utilized T-Scores to create a 20-80 scoring value for RPC insights to provide objective scouting data.
2.) BEST Performance Group (BPG) – I started my own application and service based consulting company specializing in 3 main Biomechanical Evaluation capacities – System Technologies, Sports Training, and Simulation Testing. I worked with both large and small clients under non-disclosure agreements specializing in these 3 disciplines, in addition to working on my own research studies and projects. A few project highlights include:
- Performed an epidemiological study of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries in Major League Baseball (MLB). Identified 3 distinct pitching arm side (PAS) kinematic movement patterns correlative to fatigue in PAS musculature using video analysis over a 2 year period (2014 and 2015 MLB seasons).
- Utilized high speed video camera systems, optical motion tracking systems, and MEMS based inertial motion tracking for measuring player and/or bat motions for baseball hitting mechanics and pitching mechanics studies for performance analysis, training, and player development.
- Worked on development of a 3D inertial motion tracking measurement and player characterization system designed for recording, measuring, and analyzing baseball hitting and pitching mechanics. Responsible for researching and providing technical specs on dynamic range for gyroscopes and accelerometers for hitting and pitching.
- Developed full body forward dynamics model in LifeMOD from collected motion capture data for baseball hitting and pitching that incorporated dynamic joint torque visualizations to demonstrate power flow and potential inefficiencies in the hitting and pitching mechanics and increased risk for injury to the elbow and shoulder joints during the pitching motion.
- Developed a 3D visualization model for the baseball swing and baseball pitching mechanics using motion tracking data imported into Poser. The 3D animation models were used for demonstration of the elite movement patterns utilized by players from any camera angle and can be compared to 2D video images for individual performance analysis training.
As part of an intelligent knee brace project for a start-up company, I was responsible for all proof of concept design programs integrated with virtual product development (VPD) simulations to predict knee brace function and performance in a typical NFL game environment for both contact and non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury mechanisms prior to building a physical prototype. The research program included the following steps:
- Performed an epidemiological study of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in the National Football League (NFL). Analyzed both contact and non-contact injury mechanisms using video replays of in-game NFL ACL injuries over a 2 year period (2012 and 2013 NFL season).
- Conducted 3D motion capture studies using a passive optical motion capture system with synchronized force plate and EMG data for single-leg high acceleration/deceleration movement patterns (cutting and jumping) representative of the non-contact NFL ACL injury mechanism, as well as for a typical quarterback (QB) throwing motion representative of a contact NFL ACL injury mechanism. These studies were performed on 10 different subjects for each activity and also included a detailed subject calibration phase for subsequent forward dynamics modeling.
- Kinematic studies were performed on the cutting and jumping motion capture data to determine angular velocity ranges at the knee joint for inertial sensor technical specifications as well as player characterization studies.
- Created and developed a macro level forward dynamics body simulation model and a micro level detailed knee simulation model to analyze knee ligament injury mechanisms for both contact and non-contact simulations for the intelligent prototype knee brace and shoe system.
- Responsible for the design and development of a knee brace prototype including ultra-lightweight, optimized exoskeleton structure and a shear thickening fluid (STF) outer sleeve. The exoskeleton was used for both dynamic performance and MEMS inertial sensor incorporation for measuring and predicting the onset of ACL injury.
- Responsible for researching and providing technical specification requirements on gyroscopes and accelerometers for the inertial sensor prototype system. The results from the kinematic analysis phase of the motion capture system studies for jumping and cutting activities were used to help define the sensor specifications.
- In order to calibrate the inertial system, I used a passive optical motion capture system and the inertial sensor prototype to verify measurements between the motion tracking systems were the same for angular velocity and acceleration measurements for typical NFL cutting motions.
Virtual Product Development
Designed and implemented Virtual Product Development (VPD) programs under non-disclosure agreements for medical device companies using physics-based engineering simulations of computer prototypes to predict product performance in an integrated virtual testing environment. Interfaced with FEA software to provide virtual dynamic test loads to the FEA model. Orthopedic device projects included spinal fusion devices, hip implants, and knee implants.
3.) Callaway Golf – I was hired and relocated to California to work for Callaway Golf in various Research & Development (R&D) roles. Through the years I was given increased responsibility to investigate Player Profiling, Digital Human Modeling, and Product Player Matching R&D initiatives.
My main responsibilities were to select and implement appropriate advanced measurement technologies to analyze the golf swing, investigate player-club interactions, development of Digital Human Modeling tools for virtual product development simulation tools, and to develop player profiles for Product Player Matching and Club Fitting initiatives. Major project highlights include:
- Developed, operated, and managed the Player Performance Bay at Callaway Golf, which was used for measuring and analyzing player and club motion during the golf swing. Implemented an active optoelectronic (NDI Optotrak) optical tracking system for high accuracy data collection for motion inputs to a biodynamic swing model, as well as an electromagnetic motion capture system (Polhemus) for real-time swing analysis and biofeedback sports training, and a removable MEMS based OBD inertial motion tracking system for player profiling and club fitting applications.
- Developed multi-sensor swing studies (MS3) for scientific analysis of the golf swing using one or more advanced measurement systems including 3 types of motion tracking technologies, force plates, radar and video-based launch monitors, high-speed video, strain gage and inertial measurement unit (IMU) based OBD, rate gyros, and accelerometers, all triggered for impact synchronization.
- Player Profiling studies utilized pattern analysis techniques for characterizing golfer swing profiles based on physical characteristics, player kinematic and kinetic parameters, and shaft/club 3D motions, angular velocities, and accelerations.
- Assisted on the design, development, and testing of a MEMS based inertial motion tracking system. This system was an on-board diagnostic (OBD) measurement and data acquisition system used for golf performance analysis and training applications. I oversaw transition of sensors from club head in OBD generation I to a modular OBD II system housed entirely at the grip end of the club and incorporating advanced simulation routines to predict dynamic club head motions from measured inertial motion tracking data.
- Created an advanced performance fitting algorithm based on optimal launch conditions and spin robustness for any swing profile using measured or predicted club head orientations at impact. Algorithm allowed for club head center of mass optimization or inertial properties of whole club based on results from synergistic dynamic swing model simulations and analysis. Also developed a rigid body club head analysis routine based on Monte Carlo simulation methods incorporating player swing inputs, predicted and/or measured ball trajectories, and user weighting functions for desired ball flight to determine the most optimal club head parameters.
- Developed Kalman filtering routines for improved estimation of dynamic 3D motion data for missing and noisy time history applications, specifically for motion capture and IMU data files.
- Digital Human Modeling projects resulted in development of a variable degree of freedom (DOF) forward dynamic swing model that allowed for parametric analysis of golf club properties for any swing profile using player kinematic joint angular time history inputs from processed motion tracking data. This model was a highly accurate biodynamic swing model with correlation coefficient values of 0.99 between the measured experimental data and the simulated output joint angular time histories for all model DOF.
- Conducted quantification of feel studies with a custom grip pressure design to investigate the golfer’s feedback function using the elastic and inertial properties of the club throughout the swing, sound characteristics at impact, and the shaft’s modal characteristics through impact.
- Assisted in the management and technical direction of external research studies with a major European University’s Sports Technology Research Group aimed at better understanding golfer’s perceptions of feel. Analyzed vibration measurements at the grip and correlations with accelerations of the club head during the dynamic swing. Investigation of new instrumentation for measuring dynamic human grip forces during the swing. Also performed analysis on sound characteristics of club-ball impact.
3.) Rexnord Technical Services (RTS) – RTS was a high volume external mechanical test lab utilizing servo-hydraulic test equipment, controllers, and software to predict and determine the mechanical performance of new materials and products, including ultimate strength, fatigue strength, and durability and wear of components and structures. Highlights of project work included:
- Worked on both internal Rexnord projects as well as large and small external clients on advanced design and development projects under non-disclosure agreements (NDA) for the automotive, aerospace and off-road industries.
- Tasked with improving product and equipment designs as well as improving design and development processes through advanced design tools and methodologies.
- Incorporated optimization and sensitivity studies in stress analysis projects for modifications and improvements to current production parts for external clients.
- Developed and executed MTS Remote Parameter Control (RPC) simulation protocols to support product research projects for external customers Harley Davidson, John Deere, and Caterpillar. RPC testing programs were a critical step for meaningful, efficient laboratory-based simulation of vehicle field performance.
- Implemented RPC testing programs for the evaluation of vehicle durability, performance, power-train, noise/vibration, and ergonomics studies.
- In support of MTS RPC testing programs, collected and/or analyzed field data measuring a components typical operating environment for strains, accelerations, and/or displacements.
- The MTS RPC program was used to obtain precise replication of the field measured data and then played back those parameters in the test lab to reproduce the environment on an MTS simulation system.
4.) Midwest Biomechanics Laboratory – As a Research Engineer at Midwest Biomechanics Laboratory, I worked primarily on orthopedic implant testing programs using advanced analytical techniques such as FEA and forward dynamics simulation modeling. A few highlights of biomechanical modeling projects were:
- Development of a nonlinear contact FEA model to simulate the relative motion between a hip implant and surrounding cancellous bone. Results from these analyses were compared to a simultaneous experimental servo-hydraulic hip implant micromotion study using extensometers on a MTS testing system incorporating a custom test fixture simulating the motion of the hip.
- Development of a 3D FEA model of the titanium thread, fibrous tissue interface of a lumbar interbody spinal fusion cage to analyze the effect of parametric implant design changes and in-vivo loading changes on the resultant bone stress values to predict bone remodeling changes. Results from histologic implant retrieval studies at 1-2 years post-operative were used for model validation.
- Development of a 3D FEA model for stress analysis of the hip implant bone interface as part of a multi-disciplinary research project for an orthopedic implant design program.
- Conducted comparative kinematic analyses of a human knee vs. a total knee replacement (TKR) system, specifically analyzing differences in deep knee flexion and resultant joint contact forces, using active muscle forces and soft tissue constraints to drive the simulation.
- Development of a full body forward dynamics model to better understand the natural kinematics and kinetics of hip and knee joints and to simulate in vivo functional activities to evaluate the kinematic and kinetic performance of parametric implant designs in VPD design analyses