The Smash
Brothers

Meet Mike and Ryan – The VICIS Smash Brothers

Jan. 5, 2016 ⋅ Categories: Dev Blog

Mike Czerski and Ryan Smith are Test Engineers at VICIS.  They spend their days designing and executing tests that demonstrate the durability and efficacy of the ZERO1. They also benchmark our helmet against current helmets from football and other sports so we can stay abreast of developments throughout the industry.  We call them the “Smash Brothers.”

Mike attended the University of Washington (UW), where he received his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Post-graduation, he interned at an aerospace company before returning to the UW to earn a Masters in Mechanical Engineering.  VICIS jumped at the chance to hire Mike, who was one of the top students in the Master’s program.

Ryan is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from UW.  He worked part-time at VICIS during his senior year and accepted an offer to join us immediately upon graduation. Ryan is a huge football fan and great young engineer.  We’re fortunate to have him on our team.

What exactly do Mike and Ryan do as “Smash Brothers?”

Mike and Ryan test the ZERO1 helmet and assure it performs to our strict design standards. Testing is a critical part of our development process.  It helps us select and refine the helmet’s materials and structures.  It’s also critical in assessing the ZERO1’s strength and durability.  

What are the primary tests they conduct?

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) sets pass/fail standards for sports safety equipment, including football helmets.  At VICIS, Mike and Ryan conduct linear impact testing according to the NOCSAE protocol. The linear test uses a fixture containing two wires attached to a carriage holding a head-form. The headform is dropped from heights ranging from 2-5 feet and linear acceleration and force experienced at impact are measured.

How are those forces measured?

While several parameters are measured, the most easily understood is PEAK G.  PEAK G represents the maximum acceleration experienced by the headform compared to the constant value of 1G, related to the weight of your body.  A lower PEAK G indicates the helmet is doing its job, reducing impact forces before they are transferred to the head.

What else are you monitoring?

In addition to PEAK G and other numerical indicators, the Smash Brothers look at the data graphically.  They often plot acceleration vs. displacement curves. The flatter the curve, the better.

What is the “RFLX” layer that reduces acceleration?

The RFLX layer is the matrix of columns that makes up the primary mechanism intended to reduce acceleration in the ZERO1 Helmet. The columnar structure works with the helmet’s other layers to mitigate the forces from a collision.