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Cleveland State Takes Top Honors in Parker’s Stretch Your Mind Challenge

Winning Team Uses Sensor Technology to Help Prevent ACL Injury

A team of students from Cleveland State University took first place in the national Stretch Your Mind Engineering Challenge sponsored by Parker Hannifin. Team Poly-Scientific Design won the competition with a knee orientation monitoring application which enhances analysis of joint motion and could help prevent sports injuries.

CSU students Nattawat Sunpituksaree, Christopher Schroeck, Brianna McKinney, Gianfranco Trovato and Michael Hanson, under the supervision of faculty advisor Dr. Ton van den Bogert, Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Washkewicz College of Engineering, designed a device that utilizes polymer sensors to monitor the flexion and orientation of the knee, which are the main contributors to stress levels on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The device will allow coaches and trainers to detect the motions that increase the risk of ACL injury, and teach athletes to modify their motions to reduce the risk of injury.

The team was made up of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and health sciences majors and is a component of a new CSU student organization, also called Poly-Scientific Design, which seeks to promote multidisciplinary research as a means to solve societal problems.

The Stretch Your Mind Engineering Challenge encouraged students at universities across the U.S. to design an original market solution using Parker’s electroactive polymer (EAP) sensor technology. Teams were required to identify an application, design a solution and plan for its deployment into the market.

“I think we can go toe to toe with any team of students in the country,” said Schroeck, a senior mechanical engineering major.

“The team went much farther than I thought possible.  It was a pleasure to work with such a motivated, hard-working, and smart group of people,” added van den Bogert.

Following the competition, Sunpituksaree was invited to present on the project at EuroEAP 2016, the 6th International Conference on Electromechanically Active Polymer Transducers & Artificial Muscles, in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is currently doing additional research to further development of the product at the Intelligent Material Systems Lab at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany.

For additional information about the Stretch Your Mind Engineering Challenge visit