|“Players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before, and so our challenge is to find new ways to keep them safer and reduce injuries,” said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins. “This collaboration with Covestro and Carnegie Mellon is a specific attempt to use recent advances in material science to address the physical boundary that surrounds a hockey rink. Can we come up with a material solution that reduces the impact of players hitting the boards and makes the game safer for players of all ages?”
The first major step in the process will be a “Make-a-thon” March 12-16 at the College of Engineering. The interactive event will bring together teams of CMU students to design and develop prototypes for testing.
If successful, the prototypes will be submitted to experts at the NHL and USA Hockey for their feedback. Testing could then be conducted by amateur players at the FedEx Rink at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
“I cannot imagine better partners than Covestro and Carnegie Mellon Engineering, acknowledged global engines of innovation in materials and engineering,” Morehouse said. “Combined with insight from the Penguins and the NHL on the hockey and rink management side, we think it is an exceptional team to explore ways to make an inherently physical sport safer for all players. This can be a meaningful research project that, if we achieve our goal, could help make a long-term impact on the game.”
The idea for “Rethink the Rink” began in a series of conversations between Morehouse and Jerry MacCleary, CEO of Covestro LLC, which has North American headquarters in Pittsburgh.
“We were drawn to this project for a number of reasons – not only because it combines our passion for problem-solving with our strong focus on safety, but more importantly, because we believe in its long-term potential,” MacCleary said. “We’re writing the playbook as we go, but that’s how innovation happens – by pushing boundaries. And our push will be that much stronger with this powerful trio behind it.”
“At Carnegie Mellon we challenge our students to take on unusual problems, to be innovative, to be inquisitive and to take full advantage of hands-on learning projects like the ‘Rethink the Rink’ challenge,” said James H. Garrett Jr., dean of the College of Engineering. “This initiative, by three world-class organizations, is emblematic of the advanced level of collaboration we practice to drive breakthrough results.”
If successful with the initiative on the dasher boards and glass, the “Rethink the Rink” group would then explore the role of materials in other areas of hockey, including player equipment and rink construction.
“Bringing three Pittsburgh-based organizations together to think creatively about this challenge is an example of the entrepreneurial spirit and energy of the city and indicative of why it is flourishing today,” added Garrett.
About Covestro LLC:
Covestro LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America and is part of the global Covestro business, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 2016 sales of EUR 11.9 billion. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, electrical and electronics, and medical industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 15,600 people at the end of 2016.