The Pittsburgh Penguins are teaming up again with giants of science and technology—Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Covestro—for “Rethink the Rink.” This continuing innovation partnership aims to make hockey safer at every level, from youth hockey to the NHL.
Rethink the Rink is the world’s first hockey “make-a-thon,” an event born four years ago when the Penguins and Covestro imagined a unique partnership to pair technology innovation with hockey to advance safety. The event challenges students to develop material solutions that enhance safety without compromising performance.
Make-a-thon 2021 takes place from May 17-21. Multidisciplinary teams will work together at TechSpark, a high-tech facility for building and making in ANSYS and Hamerschlag Halls on CMU’s campus.
The “hat trick” collaboration among these organizations pushes the limits of design and development in a week–long “make-a-thon” collaboration. CMU students will be working in teams alongside experts from Covestro to develop potential materials and technology solutions to better hockey equipment. 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 Covestro Innovation Rink at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, PA.
Our students enjoy a challenge, and a chance to be innovative, inquisitive, and bring fresh ideas to hands-on learning projects.Bill Sanders, Dean of the College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
“Our students enjoy a challenge, and a chance to be innovative, inquisitive, and bring fresh ideas to hands-on learning projects,” said Bill Sanders, dean of the College of Engineering at CMU.
As students apply their creativity and academic strength to the challenge, they have access to experts and materials technologies from Covestro, a high-tech polymers producer and “Official Innovation Partner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.” Covestro professionals interact with the students about possible materials for use, such as polyurethane foams in shoulder and elbow pads and 3D printing of polycarbonates and thermoplastic polyurethanes.
In its first year, 2018, the Make-a-thon focused on rink dasher board design. Segments of the new board system have been installed at the Covestro Innovation Rink at the Pens practice facility at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Years 2019 and 2020 innovations focused on player protective equipment, specifically goalie helmets and shoulder and elbow pads. This year, the focus is on player helmets.
David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins, said, “The collaboration with Covestro and Carnegie Mellon is an exciting attempt to use advances in material science to improve the safety of the players. Combined with insight from the Penguins and the NHL, Rethink the Rink is an exceptional way to explore making an inherently physical sport safer. This is a meaningful research project that could help make a long-term impact on the game.”
“This project combines our passion for problem-solving with the focus on increasing safety without impacting the dynamic of the sport,” said Haakan Jonsson, chairman and president of Covestro. “The partnership between the Pens, Covestro, and CMU has yielded great possibilities when it comes to improving safety. We are just scratching the surface. We believe in the long-term potential of this partnership.”