March 21, 2008

Sports Science cable series nominated for four Emmy Awards; WSU bioengineering professor serves as show\'s lead scientist

Six new episodes of the Emmy-nominated Sports Science series will begin airing on Sundays evenings at 9 p.m. beginning March 16.

The popular series brings together professional sports stars on the set with scientists and their measuring equipment to explain athletic feats of the highest level. Wayne State University Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Cynthia Bir serves as lead scientist in the series.

The show was recently nominated for four Sports Emmy Awards, more nominations than any sports show other than HBO's "Inside the NFL". Sports Science was nominated for Outstanding Production Design/Art Direction, Outstanding Graphic Design, Technical Achievement, and Outstanding Editing.

The newest episodes -- "Field Warriors", "Tricks of the Trade", "Gear Factor", "Degree of Difficulty", and "Bet You Couldn't Do That Again" -- examine dramatic sports injuries and attempt to answer questions such as "Does protective gear actually protect you?" St. Louis Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and sports celebrities from other sports appear in the shows.

"The shows are appreciated by a lot of different audiences, different age groups and backgrounds," says Bir. "In all the shows we've applied the tools developed in the lab to record, measure and map the speed, force and range of the human body, specifically the athlete. The final product is not only entertaining, but educational."

Bir started her career as a research nurse, earned her PhD in biomedical engineering at WSU, and joined the faculty in 2000. A Los Angeles television producer first sought Bir's expertise in 2005 for a new National Geographic Channel feature called "Fight Science." The series ultimately inspired two new programs - Sports Science that aired on Fox Sports Net and Super Strength on the National Geographic Channel. They were such a critical success that Fox Sports Net repeated airing Sports Science into the spring of 2008, recently adding six new episodes.

The shows have also caught the attention of secondary school teachers interested in using them as teaching tools. In response, Fox Sports Net began broadcasting a specially edited educator's version, airing Thursday's at 7 a.m.

WSU researchers have played a critical role in the development of auto and sports safety design, pioneering the field of impact biomechanics with their work leading to many automotive safety design improvements. Wayne State research on human body impacts, including crash tests and sports-related injuries, continues to spur the creation of safer cars, helmets and other protective sports gear.

The Wayne State University College of Engineering, with more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students, offers a wide range of fully accredited engineering disciplines. Located in the automotive capital of the world, the college offers an engineering education and training keyed into real-world practices with an eye to the future. Students study under the direction of recognized world leaders in such important fields as Injury Mechanics, Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsystems, Alternative Energy Technologies, as well as Automotive Engineering. Its well-respected graduates represent a large force in Michigan industry and the engineering field.

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