With London, UK, preparing to host the 2012 Olympics, sports and sporting innovation is very much on the minds of the city’s leaders, athletes and general population. With this in mind, the London Metropolitan Polymer Centre, UK, has launched a new undergraduate degree programme in Sports Product Design this September.
The three-year full-time BSc is intended to give students the skills and knowledge to design sports products of the future, from golf clubs to surfboards.
'In the Polymer Centre, we carry out considerable work for manufacturers, some of whose products are sports and leisure related,’ says course leader Dr Mathew Philip.
‘It was becoming clear that product designers were looking for a deeper understanding of materials selection and manufacturing processes, and materials science courses did not seem to inspire young people in sufficient numbers.
‘This course is aimed at bringing back excitement to the study of materials, especially polymers, by giving them purpose through design and applications.'
According to Sport England, an organisation that works with Government to promote British sports, the amount of money spent in the UK on sports and leisure products exceeds that spent in areas such as music!’
Students will be introduced to a comprehensive list of polymers and processes. Making use of the University’s Department of Health and Human Sciences and the Polymer Centre, they will undertake experimental work, including elements of computer aided design and computer aided engineering, as well as mould design and manufacture.
It is also possible to carry out a one-year industry placement. Materials covered will vary from carbon fibre composites in fishing rods and rowing boats, to polyurethane foams in trainers and protective equipment.
‘Major developments have taken place in foams, and the versatility of polyurethane has led to new opportunities for protection,’ explains Philip.
‘The multiplicity of sports trainers and the well-known metatarsal injuries are examples of how the sports industry has to invest in understanding the performance of the materials and products, as well as the user’.