Iowa State wants to play, but they want to play safely.
So the Cyclone equipment staff contacted Iowa State Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering looking for a shield.
“They were explaining and showing us what they needed, and describing the functionality that it needed,” said professor Leslie Potter. “How can we make this very easily and, of course, not very expensively?”
The department landed on a plexiglass called Lexan, and professor Matt Frank engineered a prototype.
“We were given a sample of 18 different facemask options for the helmet,” said Frank. “So the biggest challenge is the geometry of all those different masks, and trying to come up with an optimal, suitable size that will generally fit all of them.”
After testing the prototype, IMSE got to work, using what’s called a Cricut machine to make face shields for the entire football team.
Team feedback became crucial. Luckily, backup quarterback Blake Clark is also an industrial engineering major.
“Having one of our own engineering students be able to take the first prototype, put it on, and give us that perspective from a quarterback, which is really important in terms of visibility, having that peripheral view, and then just having that engineer brain,” said Frank.
“He’s been able to let us know what he’s hearing, what players say, and we’ve been able to continue the conversations necessary to make sure it’s going to hold up for them this season,” said Potter.
MARK: One look at the face shield, and the first thing you notice, is that there’s not much to it. That’s the point – keeping players safe without causing a distraction.
“The Cyclone shields have been a huge help,” said tight end Chase Allen. “We’ve been using them at practice, they work great. We use the Cyclone shield, along with other things, to protect ourselves, and we’re really proud that we were able to roll that out.”
And not just at the collegiate level. ISU engineering and equipment has helped more than 35 high schools get the face shields.
Opinions vary on comfort and functionality, but the prevailing concept is safety.
“I think it’ll definitely help us, especially when we’re close together and we’re huffing and puffing all over each other,” said Nevada senior Ayden Rhodes.
“Knowing that the face shield is there and that it’s protecting us as a mother layer of protection, but it’s not really restricting our performance, it’s good to know,” said North senior Aime Mukiza.
And it’s good for IMSE to know that their design is having a state-wide impact.
“A lot of the things that we do, they end up on a library shelf,” said Frank. “Which is exciting. But to see things get out there to the public, to go out and help people, fulfill the mission of a land-grant school like Iowa State, I think that’s pretty special.”
ISU engineering is now offering an online dropbox providing teams with guidance for how to make their own Cyclone shields. Those links are: www.imse.iastate.edu/cyclone-shield and https://iastate.app.box.com/s/0kvdvz44x1i988ggfacd88o8ib35xrmy.