10 July 2012

First Full Day at ISEA Conference

This is the first time I've attended a conference of the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA) -- and I love it!  Lowell, Massachusetts is a wonderful setting for the conference; Patrick Drane and James Sherwood have done an excellent job organizing everything.

John Brenkus of ESPN's Sports Science started off today's activities with a phenomenal keynote address.  He is a dynamic speaker with lots of entertaining videos of athletes as subjects of experiments.

The three sessions I attended today were "Modeling & Simulation,"  "Aerodynamics of Sport Projectiles," and "Biomechanics."  My Tour de France talk was part of the first session.  I learned a lot about what's being done with cycling, cricket, tennis, baseball, softball, discus, American footballs, and soccer balls.  Many bright people are here to share their research; I'm glad to have been able to speak to a dozen or so of them at great length today about their work.  Their passion is contagious!

This ISEA conference is the first engineering conference I've attended.  I can see numerous differences between an engineering conference and the many physics conferences that I've attended.  Engineers and physicists have different ways of looking at problems.  They ask different questions and approach solutions in different ways.  Experiencing the differences is what makes this conference so much fun for me.  We all see the world in unique ways, and engineers have taught me new ways to think about problems.  I've even had to get used to different language that's used to express ideas.  Even more than what experimental physicists have to offer, engineers tackle problems in very practical ways without as much concern for underlying fundamentals.  This refreshing way of thinking helps me understand my own research better.  I find myself being drawn to the physics that forms the foundation of what the engineers study, but they have taught me that thinking about the elemental structure may not always be the best approach.  They have also shown me some phenomenal technology they employ to study surfaces, trajectories, and other aspects of sports.

I can hardly wait for tomorrow!

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