The Ann Arbor Chapter of the Awesome Foundation has awarded Allen Samuels a $1000 cash award to support the design of a protective mask for girls playing field hockey. The Awesome Foundation funds winning proposals that they feel will have a positive affect on their community. In this case, girls who play field hockey are often injured when they are struck by the hard wooden sticks or balls used in the game. High school girls are required to wear eye protection, but it often obscures their view and does not protect their faces from a strike. Traditions and current rules of the game do not require college players to have face or head protection, which can often lead to injuries that require stitches when they are struck during play.
When a neighbor who played field hockey at Harvard was struck by a stick, resulting in stitches to her forehead and a possible concussion, Samuels wondered why protective face masks are not required. He then began a self-initiated project that will result in the design of a simple, light weight and inexpensive face protecting mask that, if worn, could protect girls from facial injuries during play. He said that this project represented a challenge to both design a useable protective mask and to influence and change field hockey culture.
This and other self-initiated projects that deal with aging populations, disaster relief, challenges found in developing countries and designs beyond current technologies are a part of Samuels’ ongoing Design Research. His work can be seen at http://art-design.umich.edu/people/detail/Allen_Samuels.