SWETI sweats out success
Athletes aren’t the only ones who perspire when it comes to sports. By the time they hit the field, court or ice, a substantial amount of effort has already gone into every aspect of the game, especially the equipment used.
With more than $712,000 in funding from the federal government, SAIT’s Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute (SWETI) is working on a number of projects to innovate equipment for athletes.
According to the director of applied research and innovation services (ARIS), Alex Zahavich, the funds will help provide the necessary fabrication machinery and design staff that SWETI currently lacks, for success with current and future projects.
In partnership with GRAF Canada, a Calgary-based company that manufactures hockey equipment, SWETI is working to create a skate that is superior to those currently on the market.
GRAF Canada Chairman of the Board and four-time Stanley Cup winner Claude Lemieux knows all too well the importance of high performance equipment.
“As a hockey player, what you need is a great pair of skates. If you can’t skate, you can’t play,” said Lemieux. “Our mission at GRAF Canada is to produce a better skate. GRAF has always been known to be a brand of excellence.”
GRAF Canada is also working with Brock University in St. Catherines, Ont. to help reduce bone-spurs, and other injuries that result from ill-fitting skates.
According to the GRAF Canada website, more than 100 NHL players, including Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan, are using GRAF equipment.
Zahavich hopes to see the skate prototypes tested within SAIT.
“Brock [University] has some people to test [the skates] already lined up, but eventually the Trojans would get involved,” said Zahavich.
SWETI is also working with True Stride, a company created by former NHL enforcer Troy Crowder, developing a skate system that will work as an accessory in injury prevention.
“Working with SAIT will allow me to design a more customized system for players of every level,” said Crowder during the Mar. 21 SAIT funding announcement at Canada Olympic Park.
Skeleton Sleds & Paralympic Bobsleds
One student project at SAIT focuses on developing bobsleighs for paralympians competing in the 2018 Winter Paralympics, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In addition, SWETI is currently at work on skeleton sleds for the national skeleton team for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“We were approached by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton back when the ‘Own the Podium’ funding body was first struck to help them create a research and development plan for their equipment,” said Zahavich.
The first sled was built in 2008, and progressed to this year’s circuit success when three world cup skeleton athletes raced using SAIT sleds.
Two of the skeleton athletes, Greg Maidment and Dave Greszczyszyn, are having career years in their sport. The hope is that funding will eventually help to improve the sleds further.
SWETI is also involved with wheelchair companies, including Marvel Wheelchairs, working to improve accessibility by developing a fully-powered wheelchair that has stair-climbing capabilities.
“Another [project] is a human-powered wheelchair that has accessories that allow people in wheelchairs to go off-roading, so to speak, in tougher terrains,” said Zahavich. “Current wheelchairs are not configured for that kind of activity.”
Projects within research and development are detail sensitive in nature and there is always the possibility that things will not always work out as planned.
“When you’re doing research, things go sideways and it’s not always a straight path,” said Zahavich. “The clients seem to be happy, so that’s what matters.”