Finite element analysis
Joint biomechanics and implant design
Car, motorcycle, and airplane design
Lightweight structure optimization
Advanced composite material development
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Devin Leahy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Engineering at Fort Lewis College. He joined the college in 2013 from California Polytechnic State University and previously, Colorado State University. Dr. Leahy’s current research focuses on injury biomechanics and how the materials that compose a sports helmet’s structure play a role in preventing head injury. He is the faculty advisor for the Fort Lewis chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which, among other activities, designs sporting vehicles to compete in the annual Baja SAE competition, an intercollegiate engineering design competition. In addition to SAE, Dr. Leahy is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Orthopedic Research Society. He advises students funded by the National Institutes of Health pre-MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) undergraduate research program and the National Science Foundation Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program/Four Corners Undergraduate STEM Success Grant.
Dr. Leahy and several engineering students have been studying the protective ability of football helmets. The team has received funding from the National Science Foundation Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program/Four Corners Undergraduate STEM Success Grant.
About the Research
Dr. Leahy uses a helmet testing device that was designed and constructed by five of his engineering students during the 2013-2014 school year. The students built the device in the Department of Physics and Engineering’s manufacturing center. Dr. Leahy’s students simulate impacts that happen on the football field and measure the magnitude of acceleration and deceleration by dropping an anthropometric headform onto an elastomer anvil—using an 18-foot-tall helmet tester. The headform contains sensors that measure how severe an impact would feel to the brain. The team is now in the second phase of the project: studying the anatomy of the skull and how helmets do or do not protect the most injury-susceptible parts of it.
Dr. Leahy Explains the Project
“Fort Lewis College is not the only college or university to test helmets, but we’re taking a unique approach that we hope produces more accurate data about the skull’s susceptibility to on-field impacts. This is our chance to contribute to the body of research that’s out there today on how well helmets protect brains. Our findings will hopefully lead to collaborations with other institutions doing similar research—and eventually, consultative work with the sports industry on helmet design and safety.”
“Kinetic Analysis of Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Supplemented with Transarticular Facet Screws,” Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, May 2014
“The Effects of Ligamentous Injury in the Human Lower Cervical Spine,” Journal of Biomechanics, October 2012
“Finite Element Modeling of Kinematic and Load Transmission Alterations Due to Cervical Intervertebral Disc Replacement,” Spine, August 2011