Current student, International student
I grew up in Germany and attended university in Berlin where I studied a BSc in Physics. I then decided that I wanted to explore sports engineering further so did a master’s at Chemnitz University of Technology, where I was also a student researcher.
In my years as a competitive rower, we had several occasions where researchers assessed our performance using force measurement technology. This was the first time I engaged with the idea of combining technical and sports-related knowledge in a future job. When I picked up the game of golf the first time about six years ago, I developed a strong passion for the game. From that moment on I knew that my dream job would be working in golf research.
With Loughborough University being the world leading University not only in sports-related research, but particularly in golf research, I was delighted to find the perfect project advertised just at the right time when I was about to finish my master’s, that combined both my passion and my technical expertise. Additionally, I was excited to join Loughborough because of the established links to the sports equipment industry and how much the research from the University has helped to advance golf club engineering over the last two to three decades. Despite the passion for my own project, Loughborough University attracted me because of the outstanding facilities, especially for sports equipment testing. The Sports Technology Institute is one of a kind in that sense - there seems to be nothing that you can’t measure in there!
My PhD project is about using state-of-the-art measurement techniques to inform golf club engineering. A multi-camera system is being used to track the motion of the golf club in three dimensions at high sampling rates. Key delivery is to provide software that interfaces with an existing motion capture system to analyse the golf swing and to put out relevant swing metrics. This will include novel data science methods that can provide new insights of the clubhead-ball impact scenario to golf club engineers.
One of the great benefits that I have experienced as a PhD student at Loughborough is that I can mostly organise my work time myself. That means, if you have a time-consuming hobby, you may be able to arrange your work around that hobby as long as you put the hours in at the end of the day.
Some of my crazier summer days kick off with a round of golf at sunrise from 6:00-10:00am, followed by work until 6:00pm, which still leaves me some hours of daylight to spend in the sand on the beach volleyball courts. And that’s the other great advantage of Loughborough University: if you’re into any sport at all, you will most likely be able to pursue that on-campus, or worst case, in town within five-to-ten-minutes cycling from the campus.
I also really enjoy the community that we have in the Sports Technology Institute. I sit in a large open-plan office with a dozen other researchers such as students, PhD students, as well as research associates. It’s a great atmosphere to share knowledge and to network inside and outside your area of expertise. And of course, you make good friends here!
The great thing about technical sport PhDs is that you don’t only gather expertise in the respective sport, but you become an expert for the equipment and measurement techniques being used. This knowledge combined with the ability to think and work scientifically can open up several paths for the future. In five years, I might still be in academia doing sports-related research, or I might go into industry work in R&D for a golf equipment manufacturer or a motion capture system provider. Either way, I’m excited for what the future will bring.
My advice to anyone considering a PhD would be to make friends and a strong network: some of the best ideas you come up with are from informal conversations with fellow researchers (this is how I heard of the PhD advert in the first place). My other key piece of advice would be to make sure you maintain your work-life balance: mental health is crucial to succeed in such a long journey, where ups and downs are unavoidable.