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Tech challenge

Widener’s engineering students got a taste of real-world entrepreneurial competition when they took part in the Nike+ Digital Sports Product Concept Challenge.

The students were tasked with developing a concept that exploited Nike shoe sensor technology to design new athletics-related products.

Nike and KEEN, the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network, partnered to host the challenge. Widener was one of three schools in the competition. An event modeled after the “Shark Tank” reality television series featured student teams and their video pitches, which were judged by a panel of experts. The KEEN competition will follow.

“We had seven teams, ranging anywhere from freshmen to juniors, across all of our engineering disciplines, and they came up with fantastic ideas, some of which I never would have thought of,” said Dr. Jessica L. Isaacs, visiting assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “A couple of our groups were really interested in head injuries and concussion data. The other set of ideas, the students chose their favorite sports and activities and tried to figure out how this technology could improve their own game.” Boarding, soccer, golf, and rock climbing were among the sports explored.

First place in the Widener competition went to Andrew Buckley, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, and Max Spencer, a sophomore biomedical engineering major and member of the Widener soccer team. Their project focused on using the sensors to evaluate performance in soccer.

“The inspiration really came from talking to my teammates and coaches, trying to figure out what a coach wants from this kind of system and what a player could benefit from,” Spencer said. “Players can see exactly where they’re striking the ball and get instant feedback on that.”

Ryan Raiker, a member of the second-place team, said the fact that he has had a serious concussion led him to want to explore uses of Nike sensor technology in that area. “There is a good market out there to use this to better determine people getting injured with concussions,” said Raiker, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major. “We want this out there. We want Nike to start putting this in mouthguards so players are seeing, hey, I did have impact today."