YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The NFL wants to make football safer. The league believes additive manufacturing may be the answer.
As concern grows over the long-term effects of concussions and other brain injuries, the NFL is looking for ideas on how to make better helmets.
“What we’re looking for now is revolutionary change,” said Jeff Miller, NFL vice president of health and safety innovation. “We think that there’s a significant amount of room for improvement.”
This week, league executives are in town to team up with locally-based America Makes, offering a nationwide challenge.
Close to 300 manufacturers, engineers and others are attending a three-day seminar downtown.
The goal? Come up with a new helmet that’s scientifically better than what’s being used now and win a million dollars.
“A lot of these people could be doing a lot of things with their time, right? Very smart, very capable people who could be attacking any sorts of different problems. We want them to work on ours,” Miller said.
While those taking part in the Helmet Challenge can apply for grants from the league to pay for their research, executives with America Makes said this partnership allows them to expand their focus.
“Our America Makes membership has a great opportunity to work with a completely different industry, completely different manufacturing base, different researchers and scientists, and I think it was imperative that we bring the two together,” said Erin O’Donnell, with the local company.
Some in the crowd are young college graduates looking to network, share experiences and put what they’ve learned to use.
“Try to find a team that you might be a suitable member of, as well as help gain that understanding that one person can’t do it all,” said Sebastian Giudice, who graduated from the University of Virginia.
The deadline to submit a helmet prototype is May 2021. Those prototypes will go through simulations of potentially concussive situations.
You can learn more about the NFL Helmet Challenge on the NFL’s Play Smart Play Safe website.