Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Pnina Ari-Gur

Second Advisor

Alessander Danna-dos-Santos


Football-related injuries are a common occurrence and are often detrimental to the player’s health. Force impacts frequently occur at the front, back, and sides of a player’s helmet, resulting in head injuries like concussions. The goal of this project is to reduce recurrent head injuries by designing a solution involving the use of energy-absorbing metallic materials that are inserted into a football helmet. These energy-absorbing materials are configured in target zones inside the helmet to reduce the acceleration of the head based on impact locations. The chosen materials are nitinol and spring steel, which display energy-absorbing properties. Various energy-absorbing material design configurations are simulated and tested; ultimately, the energy-absorbing material strip design is chosen for nitinol, and a metal patch (or metal coupon) is chosen for spring steel. An experimental procedure is created to test the energy-absorbing material configurations based on specified testing helmet protocols. The helmet will be tested using two testing rigs. The rigs measure the acceleration of the head by using an accelerometer located at the center of the head. The first testing rig is located in the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University and utilizes a swing arm to deliver force to the analog head and neck assembly inside the testing helmet. The second testing rig was created by a previous Senior Design Project team that employs a drop testing mechanism to deliver force to the helmet. The comparison will be done through the measurement of the recorded acceleration on the X, Y, and Z axes. The objective is to reduce the acceleration by at least 10% and minimize the helmet mass increase by a maximum addition of 5% mass. These goals could provide a basis for developing the best insert that will be most effective in reducing the acceleration of the head during impact.


Co-authored with:

Joshua Merz

Richard Ploeger II

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

AL_HonorThesis_Presentation.pdf (6730 kB)
Defense Presentation