Mission

The NFL Engineering Committee includes a diverse and experienced group of technical experts — biomechanical engineers, biomedical engineers, material scientists — who study helmets, pads and other protective equipment to improve safety on the field. They engage in significant research designed to advance the development of protective equipment.


Membership

  • Jeff Crandall, PhD (Chairman)
    Dr. Jeff Crandall is the Nancy and Neal Wade Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Virginia and holds appointments in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Emergency Medicine. He is the director of the UVA Center for Applied Biomechanics, a Fellow of SAE and the Association of Automotive Medicine (AAAM), and a past-president of the AAAM and the International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury (IRCOBI). He has authored more than 600 technical papers and has received numerous best paper and oral presentation awards. He has received the United States Government Award for Engineering Excellence and the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Faculty Member Award. Dr. Crandall serves as an engineering consultant to the NFL and chair of the NFL Head, Neck, and Spine Engineering Subcommittee. Dr. Crandall’s research focuses on understanding human response and injury with applications in automobile safety, sports, and military protection. He has extensive experience with experimental biomechanics spanning the length scales of tissue samples to whole body cadavers. He has been integral in the development of advanced dummies including THOR and the Polar Pedestrian dummy as well as in the evaluation of numerous other frontal and side impact adult and child dummies. In addition to the development of physical dummies, he has led efforts for the creation of human and dummy computational models and was the principal investigator for the Global Human Body Pelvis and Lower Extremity Center of Excellence.
  • Cynthia A. Bir, PhD
    Dr. Cynthia A. Bir is a Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She has extensive research experience in the area of human injury tolerances. Her research interests include sports injury biomechanics, ballistic impacts, blast injury, and forensic biomechanics. She has studied the effects of impacts to all regions of the body and is known world-wide for her work in this area. Dr. Bir currently has funding for various research efforts in the area of injury biomechanics. Investigating the effects of ballistic impacts to the human body, research is currently being conducted on Behind Armor Blunt Trauma (BABT) and the assessment of personnel protective gear. She also has funding to assess stab/slash wounds to correctional officers, the effects of Tasers on vulnerable populations, and how body armor affects the core body temperature of the end users. She has been funded by the Department of Defense to study both blast neurotrauma and lower extremity injury research. Her sports related research includes the development of a new thoracic surrogate to evaluate chest protectors, a cumulative concussion model and real-time data collection of head impacts in boxing. Dr. Bir has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal papers and over 90 abstracts and conference papers. She has served as an invited guest at several conferences both here in the United States and abroad. Besides being a professor at The University of Southern California, Dr. Bir is currently serving as a member on the NATO Human Factors and Medicine Panel (HFM 148) for Improvised Explosive Devices and is an invited guest for the International Vehicle Security Advisory Group (IVSAG) and a subject matter expert for the LCG9 Blunt Trauma Group for NATO. Dr. Bir has been asked to present to various groups including the Youth in Engineering and Science (YES) Expo, TED-Ed and at the World Science Festival. She was also selected as a Detroit Crain’s Business Daily, Women to Watch in 2008. She was inducted as an AIMBE Fellow in 2014.
  • Randal Ching, PhD
    Dr. Ching is a Research Associate Professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering (primary), Bioengineering (adjunct), and Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine (adjunct), at the University of Washington. Dr. Ching’s research interests lie in the biomechanics of the human musculoskeletal system, particularly orthopaedic and injury biomechanics. After spending 10 years on the faculty of the UW Department of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine (1992-2002), he returned to his engineering roots in 2002 to help start a graduate-level biomechanics program in the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves as Director of the UW Applied Biomechanics Laboratory (ABL). The Applied Biomechanics Lab (ABL) specializes in the testing and evaluation of a variety of orthopedic medical devices and joint replacement systems for the spine, hip, knee, and extremities. In addition, the ABL conducts research to biomechanically characterize musculoskeletal tissue properties for use in computational models, establishing human tolerance values, and the development of surgically implantable devices. A recent focus of the ABL has been on refining and improving the implementation of surgical navigation systems in the operating room. Finally, Dr. Ching is actively involved in the performance evaluation of helmets and wearable head-impact sensors (dosimetry). He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Snell Memorial Foundation (an international non-profit organization dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards) and the Engineering Subcommittee of the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee.
  • Rich Kent, PhD
    Dr. Richard Kent is a Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia and Deputy Director of the UVA Center for Applied Biomechanics. Over the course of his 20-year career, Dr. Kent has published over 200 articles on the biomechanics of injury and the design and assessment of injury prevention countermeasures. His research interests include experimental design and the development of test and analysis methods for relating mechanical loads to injury risk, and the use of that knowledge to improve the effectiveness of safety equipment. Dr. Kent has consulted to the NFL Player Health & Safety Committees since 2008. His background as an international expert in automotive crash injury prevention has informed the league’s research to improve assessment tools for sports injury protection equipment. Dr. Kent chaired the NFL Taskforce on the Development of Recommended Practices for Gameday Fields and has led the development of assessment methods for NFL shoulder pads, thigh pads, knee pads, and footwear, in addition to his ongoing work with the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee. Dr. Kent is a past Director and now Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, and a member of the Stapp Advisory Committee.
  • David Meaney, PhD
    Dr. David F. Meaney is the Solomon R. Pollack Professor and Chair Bioengineering (BE). Meaney’s research focuses on understanding the mechanical cues that regulate injury, repair, and growth in cells and tissues of the central nervous system. The process of mechanotransduction is critical in understanding the response of cells and tissues of the central nervous system (CNS) to traumatic injury. In this research area, experimental work is combined with mathematical modeling to provide a method to quantify the effect of physical forces on cell and tissue function. For example, some of the research combines finite element models of the brain with experimental work to estimate the tissue mechanical stress/strain associated with biological markers of injury. These models provide a starting point to relate traditional measures of stress to the microstructural constituents of the tissue. Structural models are being developed to link global mechanical deformations and the resulting deformation of cellular/subcellular microstructures in the CNS white matter. With the kinematic transformations between the macroscopic deformations and cellular components of the CNS white matter now better established, the research has expanded to determine the mechanism(s) by which a mechanical signal is converted into a biochemical signaling cascade for organotypic tissue, cultured neurons, and cultured axons. Clinical applications of his work include developing new testing standards to improve the safety of headgear and automotive restraint systems, and testing new techniques for repairing damaged tissues in the brain after injury. Meaney received his PhD in Bioengineering 1991 from the University of Pennsylvania, an MSE in Bioengineering in 1988 from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Biomedical Engineering in 1987 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
  • Frank Pintar, PhD
    Dr. Pintar is a Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Marquette University, and Director of the Neuroscience Research Laboratories at the VA Medical Center. These laboratories occupy over 25,000 sq ft and employ eight PhD scientists and 22 staff for conduct of ongoing federally funded research projects. Over the years, Dr. Pintar has served as a research mentor to over 30 graduate students, post docs, residents, fellows, and junior faculty in the medical school and engineering school. Dr. Pintar has held numerous committee positions within the Medical College of Wisconsin including the chair of the Faculty Benefits committee. He has been active as a member of grant review teams (e.g., CDC, NIH, NIDRR) and other scientific organizations (e.g., Cervical Spine Research Society, Stapp Association) and received grant awards from NIH, VA, CDC, DOT, DoD, and foundations. He has authored more than 500 research publications including two books on head and neck trauma and over 290 peer-reviewed journal papers. He is one of the principal investigators of the US-DOT-NHTSA-sponsored MCW CIREN Center (six in the nation). Dr. Pintar conducts collaborative projects with the Injury Research Center through the departments of Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Trauma Surgery. He has also helped to mentor residents and fellows from Otolaryngology, Orthopedic Surgery, and Plastic Surgery. He has a secondary appointment in the department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy where he conducts collaborative projects and mentors basic science graduate students. Additionally, he participates as a faculty member of the Neuroscience Research Center. His current research interests include the biomechanics of brain and spinal cord injury, mechanics of spine surgical techniques, computer finite element modeling of the cervical spine, and motor vehicle crash trauma. He has received numerous awards and is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. He directs the only NHTSA-certified full-scale crashworthiness laboratory in an academic setting in the world, sled lab, biomechanics lab, stem cell lab, neurobiology lab, tissue/culture lab, and neurohistology lab.
  • Raúl Radovitzky, PhD
    Raúl Radovitzky joined the Faculty of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT in 2001 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006, and promoted to full Professor in 2012. He was born in Argentina and educated at the University of Buenos Aires, where he obtained his Civil Engineer degree in 1991. He received his M. Sc. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University in 1995 and his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1998. He worked as a research engineer at the Center for Industrial Research of the Techint – Siderca Corporation in Argentina from 1990–93. From 1998–2001 he worked at the Caltech ASCI Center for the Dynamic Response of Materials, holding a Staff Scientist position at the Center for Advanced Computing Research. Professor Radovitzky's research interests are in the area of Computational Modeling of the response of solid materials and of fluid – structure interaction problems with particular interest in fundamental aspects of blast effects on humans and structures. His research activities have included: the development of numerical models for the analysis of different manufacturing processes in the steel industry, the formulation of efficient finite element interpolation schemes, the analysis of thermo-mechanical effects in welding processes, the Lagrangian formulations of viscous flows with applications to sloshing and wave – breaking, unstructured tetrahedral mesh generation algorithms, error estimation and adaptive remeshing schemes for nonlinear dynamic problems, analysis of Electromagnetic Riveting, dynamic fracture and fragmentation of glass rods, dry sliding wear of metals, formulation of efficient algorithms for the computation of the exponential and logarithmic mappings of square matrices, scalable Eulerian – fluid/Lagrangian – solid coupling algorithms and shock – capturing schemes for the Lagrangian analysis of shocks in solids. More recently, he has been working in the development of algorithms for the high performance simulation of the response of structures to blast waves as well as on local features of deformation in the high – rate response of polycrystalline materials. Prof. Radovitzky has been the Associate Director of the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies since 2008. He leads its Materials and Structures for Blast Damage and Injury mitigation team. Professor Radovitzky's educational interests are in integrating technology and pedagogy in the teaching of Computational Mechanics, Continuum Mechanics, Aerospace Structures, Mechanics of Materials, Numerical Methods and High – Performance Computing at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Professor Radovitzky is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, International Association of Computational Mechanics, American Academy of Mechanics, Materials Research Society and U.S. Association of Computational Mechanics.
  • Darren Stefanyshyn, PhD

Consultants to the Engineering Committee

  • Jim Funk, PhD, PE (Scientific Coordinator)
    Dr. Jim Funk is the Scientific Coordinator of the NFL Head, Neck, and Spine Engineering Subcommittee. He has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and Virginia in the fields of biomedical and mechanical engineering. Jim has been active in the field of injury biomechanics for more than 20 years. He has published over fifty peer-reviewed scientific papers in the fields of orthopaedics, biomechanics, accident reconstruction, and injury risk analysis. While at the University of Virginia, Dr. Funk worked in the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory under the School of Medicine and the Automobile Safety Laboratory (now the Center for Applied Biomechanics) under the School of Engineering. He then left Virginia and worked for Biodynamic Research Corporation in San Antonio, Texas for 12 years, where he analyzed real world injuries resulting from vehicle collisions, falls, industrial accidents, and other mishaps. He began taking an active role in head injury research, collaborating with Virginia Tech in analyzing on-field player sensor data and conducting extensive head impact testing on crash test dummies, human volunteers, and himself. Dr. Funk returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he currently studies concussion and works on the projects in the Engineering Roadmap.

NFL Players Association Representatives to the Engineering Committee

  • Kristy Arbogast, PhD
    Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., is the Co-Scientific Director and Director of Engineering for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and a Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1997, she received her PhD in Bioengineering with a focus on brain injury mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania and began her research career at CHOP. In 2014, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden for her leadership in the field of child safety. She is an internationally recognized expert on pediatric injury biomechanics, injury causation and the effectiveness of safety products for children. Her research efforts have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and several corporate entities in the field of automotive safety and include the biomechanics of pediatric injury for the development of new safety designs and biofidelic child anthropomorphic dummies. She was a co-investigator on the Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) project, a 10-year national study on child passenger safety funded by State Farm Insurance. Dr. Arbogast served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Sports Concussion in Youth and led an effort at Children’s Hospital to standardize clinical care of concussion throughout the Hospital’s health care network. Dr. Arbogast serves as the Co-Director of the National Science Foundation sponsored Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) at CHOP, the University of Pennsylvania and The Ohio State University. CChIPS is an Industry-University Cooperative Research Center focused on the advancement of safety for children, youth, and young adults by facilitating scientific inquiry into childhood and young adult injuries and to translate these findings into commercial applications and public education programs for preventing future injuries from occurring. Dr. Arbogast has given many invited lectures on the biomechanics of unintentional injury to children, both nationally and internationally, and has been recognized by the Society of Automotive Engineers, Stapp Car Crash Conference, Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, and the Automotive Safety Council for her work.
  • Barry Myers, MD, PhD
    Dr. Myers has been a member of the Duke faculty since 1991 and is currently Managing Director of Licensing and Ventures. His research examines the biomechanics of head and neck injury with the goal of injury prevention. Dr. Myers founded and directs the Coulter Foundation Translational Partnership Program at Duke that provides $1 MM in early stage funding and management to faculty health care innovations annually with a goal of licensing and creating new life science start-up companies. Dr. Myers is the Director of Emerging Programs in the Duke Translational Research Institute where he is responsible for the consult service that provides funding and project management support to faculty translational research projects in the Duke Medical Center. Within the Office of Licensing and Ventures, he manages IT, legal and works with faculty to facilitate transfer of their innovations into the marketplace. He also maintains an active consulting practice including the NFL and NASCAR while serving as an Executive-in-Residence at Pappas Ventures advising several start-up companies. Dr. Myers is considered by many as the preeminent researcher in his field worldwide, having over 100 manuscripts and publications on the subject. Among Dr. Myers many honors are the Stapp Award of Recognition, and the Isbrandt Award for automotive safety from the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is the six-time winner of the Stapp Award for research in impact biomechanics, more than any other individual, and also the Bertil Aldman award for impact biomechanics research. Dr. Myers has worked with all major organizations concerned with safety in the United States including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Because of his breadth of experience in injury prevention, Dr. Myers was appointed to the position of Senior Scientific Advisor to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control for two years. He has also consulted with most major automobile manufactures and automotive racing organizations worldwide. Dr. Myers is a Distinguished Professor at Duke University, having received the Bass Chair in recognition of his accomplishments in research and teaching. He is the faculty advisor to four student best graduate student paper competition winners at national meetings. He was responsible for the 2004 revision of the Pratt School of Engineering undergraduate curriculum. He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He has also served as Senior Associate Dean for Industrial Partnerships and the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization in the Pratt School of Engineering.