One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Jordan Foley, Student Public Relations Writer

Three Cedarville University senior engineering students received a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with the U.S. Air Force accommodations group at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in advanced biomechanics technology. This project was part of their senior capstone project, which was completed prior to their graduation in May.

Josiah Zurick, project leader (Middlefield, Ohio), Thaddeus Krueger (Beavercreek, Ohio) and Kimiye Wenger (Lititz, Pennsylvania) submitted a proposal to Wright Patterson Air Force Base to create customizable helmets for Air Force pilots.

Current helmets add instrumentation to the forward portion of the helmet adding weight and shifting the center of gravity (CG) of the helmet forward, which can cause neck fatigue and create risk of injuries if an airman ejects from the plane. The senior engineering students’ goal was to customize the helmet to bring the helmet CG more closely in line with the pilot’s head CG. “When we were given this two-year project, we knew it could become a game-changing helmet for our Air Force pilots,” said Krueger, who has been accepted into the Air Force flight training program and could benefit from new helmet technology. “I was really invested in this project because anything that we can do to keep our pilots safe is worthwhile.”

The capstone team focused on using a CT scan segmentation analysis to identify the center of gravity of the human head taken from an existing cadaver database. Zurick, Krueger, and Wenger have completed their assignment and have now given the project to a new group of engineering students, who will continue the work in August. The new team will use head and face 3D scans to further improve and customize the helmet designs.

As expected, the current team met various technical complications in their research and modeling. These initial setbacks provided a great learning opportunity for the team.

“Countless moments of frustration have ultimately improved our communication and organizational skills,” said Zurick, “but we have a passion to see this project become a reality.”

A new team of engineering students is taking the project from this point over the next academic year as the Air Force continues to improve the fit and function of the next generation helmets.  Dr. Tim Norman, capstone advisor and distinguished professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering co-advises the project with Jennifer Whitestone, Chief Scientist, Solutions Through Innovative Technologies, Inc. (STI-TEC) Fairborn OH.

The three students have impressed the biomechanic community at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base with their initial work,” said Norman. “They have conducted cutting edge analyses that could lead to improvement of helmet designs, impacting the future of the health and safety of U.S. Air Force pilots.” 

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