It was worth a PhD to Heather Driscoll and untold sums to Adidas – how to make football boots grip without sticking.
She worked on the conflict between speed and agility at Hallam University’s Centre for Sports Engineering Research investigating boot-pitch interactions, in partnership with Adidas.
The project formed part of the company’s long-term research into the traction of football boots and stud configurations.
Dr Driscoll used analytical and computational modelling, experimental and player testing, high-speed video analysis, image processing, data analysis and design.
She began with three months at Adidas’ headquarters in Germany using test facilities to collate data for her research. She worked with the company as her doctorate progressed, with regular phone conference meetings as well as workshops in Sheffield and in Germany.
She said: “It certainly helped me knowing my work was applicable in the real world. I saw all elements of the company – design, process and manufacturing – and they showed me round saying, ‘this is how you can help us in the future’.”
Since completing her PhD, Dr Driscoll, now a research associate in the university’s equipment mechanics team, has been involved in two consultancy projects for Adidas.