Athlete Intelligence Blog

Summer Internship with an impact

8/22/17 10:00 AM / by Lidia Harding

For the past two years Athlete Intelligence has been working closely with Davidson College and Professor Dr. Tim Chartier to help expand research on data analytics. Part of Chartier's work is about finding patterns and trends in data such as differences in injury rates and head impacts from different quarters or positions in a football game.

Read Geek Wire's feature story on the partnership.

Over the summer Dr. Chartier offered two students a summer internship. They worked closely with Athlete Intelligence on additional data resources for the Athlete Intelligence system that would create more information and insights for coaches.

The following is students George Baldini and Kendall Thomas' experience. This post also appears at the Big Math Network blog, where you can learn more about Athlete Intelligence. Athlete Intelligence uses an online platform in tandem with Vector™ MouthGuard and other innovative wearables so that coaches, athletic trainers and athletes can use in-play data to create coachable moments, improve skills and reduce chance of injury.

Summer Internship with an Impact
By: George Baldini and Kendall Thomas

The end of the school year marks a break from exams, homework, and classes. It’s also a desirable time to dive into experiences outside the classroom, notably in research or an internship. Academic research allows students to explore untrodden intellectual territory and potentially create new knowledge. Business internships allow undergraduates an opportunity to apply their academic learning to business, try their hand in industry, and potentially make connections for future employment. Research or business internship? Many data analytics companies hire rising seniors with a possible job offer coming at summer’s end. We are rising juniors. Internships are possible but difficult to find. What did we decide for our summer? Both!

This summer, we worked at Davidson College with Dr. Tim Chartier in an internship with Athlete Intelligence. Athlete Intelligence is sports technology and data analytics company headquartered in Kirkland, Washington. The company makes wearable devices for athletes, like mouth guards (see below) and helmet sensors, that track head impacts as well as biometric data. These devices provide instantaneous data for each impact during a session, alerting coaches and training staff if an impact magnitude exceeds a preset threshold or a player surpasses a certain number of hits in a small period of time. Their unique user platform empowers coaches and athletic trainers to access useful insights from this data to help reduce the risk of injury and improve performance. 

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Our group served as a data analytics research branch of the company. As Jesse Harper, CEO of the company stated, “This is a mission to Mars. We’ll know what we find when we find it.”

If you don’t know where you’re going, where do you begin? With analytics, a first step is data. The company supplied impact data from high school and college football teams for one or more seasons. For each impact, Athlete Intelligence devices record the corresponding player, position, head location, magnitude, and time.

Armed with data, we turned to research goals. First, find “coachable moments,” actionable insights which aid coaches. For example, one team’s impacts increased towards the end of the game, possibly from fatigue’s effect on technique. If a coach verified fatigue’s influence, the team could emphasize conditioning and remind players to keep their heads up when tackling late in games.  

Our second goal, connecting to the first goal, enrich the data. We wanted to add data that leads to additional insights. Since Athlete Intelligence will partner with Davidson Women’s Soccer team this fall, we asked our soccer coaches what data they currently track and would like to track in the future. In the end, we augmented the data with hours of sleep for each player, weather, elevation, location, and type of event (game or practice).

While the new data came from our soccer coaches’ interests, we added these new data points to our current impact data, which occurred in football. Insight followed. For example, one team’s centers and defensive ends were hit significantly harder in games than in practices; and, a little unnerving, quarterbacks and special teams got hit harder in practice than in games as seen in the graph below. An immediate question followed: why? Presented with such information, coaches could revisit game tape and practice plans to identify these situations and make any necessary adjustments.

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To conclude our summer, we visited the company’s office in Kirkland. We presented our research and discussed how it could enrich the company’s user platform. Our research met their business goals and would help the company.

Our summer was fascinating and productive. Our internship introduced us to a new company, exposed us to cutting edge research, and included a trip to the Seattle area. Even better, our work wouldn’t end with the summer. While in Kirkland, our Athlete Intelligence colleagues presented us with more interesting projects. We enter the fall ready to get back to work through our continued collaboration and make more impacts with our analytics research.

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Big Math Network

This post is reprinted with permission from the BIG Math Network.  The BIG Math Network brings together the Mathematical Sciences community (including pure and applied mathematics, statistics, operations research and data science) to:

  • Build job opportunities for mathematical scientists
  • Communicate the value of mathematical science in the workplace
  • Facilitate connections between students, faculty, recruiters and managers
  • Increase knowledge about internships and how to prepare for them
  • Provide viable models for internship logistics (timing, intellectual property, training)
  • Create regional networks

Topics: Research, Data Analytics, Athlete Performance