Where are they now?
Iain Hannah obtained an MEng in Mechanical Engineering (with German) from the University of Sheffield and after completing his PhD at Loughborough joined Insigneo as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the MultiSim project. He now works as a Simulation Engineer for the Adidas FUTURE Team in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
I completed a PhD at Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute in 2013 and, after a period of travelling abroad, was seeking an opportunity to use the skills that I had developed in biomechanical simulation. I was delighted to be offered a postdoctoral position on the MultiSim project and return to Sheffield, the city in which I had spent four wonderful years as an undergraduate.
I was impressed by the vision of Insigneo and the MultiSim project, as it seemed to have a clear and meaningful application, but without sacrificing academic rigour. I enjoyed the opportunity to couple my experience in the finite element modelling of biomechanical systems to an area that was relatively new to me, the development of subject-specific musculoskeletal models. The approachable nature of everyone in the group allowed me to settle quickly and also helped to foster a culture of collaboration that I feel both benefitted the quality of my work, and ensured that my time with Insigneo was as enjoyable as it was.
The experiences I gained as part of the MultiSim project have served me well in my current role as a Simulation Engineer with the Adidas FUTURE Team, the arm of the company responsible for research and innovation. Whilst my work in Sheffield was geared towards more medical applications, sports products cannot be successful unless the biomechanics of human motion are considered during their design and development. This is key in my current position and we are encouraged to keep this is mind, irrespective of what we are working on, whether it be the optimisation of component geometries, characterisation of material properties, or establishment of new design principles.
The University of Sheffield and Insigneo offer a significant number of opportunities to develop as a researcher and I feel that they certainly helped to develop some of the softer skills that are required to be a successful engineer. Amongst others, I participated in courses on time management, presentation skills and technical writing, all things that continue to benefit me to this day. Furthermore, my department at Adidas employs a broad mix of engineers, designers and developers, and most projects require significant collaboration between these diverse groups. The ability to manage these relationships is crucial and I definitely feel that there are clear parallels to the MultiSim project which also requires such a wide range of competencies to achieve its goals.
The final aspect of Insigneo that I’d like to touch on is the more social opportunities that there are to be enjoyed. We set up a monthly sports club and took part in a range of activities including 6-a-side football, archery and my personal highlight, a trip to see the mighty Sheffield Wednesday defeat Arsenal at Hillsborough. I was also involved in the organisation of the annual team building activity for which we decided to host the Great Insigneo Bake Off. I can certainly say that my time as a Research Associate on the MultiSim project played a huge role in my development as an engineer and has given me the skills and confidence to succeed in this next step of my career. Thank you to all those with whom I worked alongside during this time.