With its mild tempo and sophisticated technique, badminton is among the hottest sports activities on the planet by way of participation – second solely to soccer – with over 220 million common gamers.
Saket Venkatesh (MS ISE ’22) grew up on the badminton courts in India, the birthplace of the fashionable recreation, the place it’s wildly in style. As a baby, he tagged his father to look at him play and fell in love with the sport. Then, after years of laborious work, she made her approach to the distinguished Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, a breeding floor for future Olympic champions, based by former world primary Prakash Padukone.
However as a gifted teenager with huge desires, Venkatesh quickly discovered that there was a darkish aspect to the feathered shuttlecock, which he and his fellow athletes threw throughout the courts at dizzying speeds and impossibly exact arcs.
A contest-grade badminton shuttlecock is crafted from 16 overlapping goose or duck feathers embedded in a cork base. Wings require a selected curvature that may solely be discovered within the feathers of a chook’s left wing. This configuration permits the Shuttle to have the exact weight and aerodynamics required for elite sports activities.
In recent times, the way in which these feathers are gathered has attracted the eye of animal lovers. That is one thing that didn’t go nicely with Venkatesh.
“While you enter the sport, you might be solely given shuttlecocks with feathers and also you by no means take into consideration what the implications are. However once I was doing a bit extra analysis, I understood that shuttlecocks do loads of hurt to animals. are,” Venkatesh stated.
“Geese or geese are plucked by their necks and feathers are faraway from their feathers. And since it’s derived from just one wing, the chook is unbalanced. There may be loads of ache that goes on,” he stated.
The priority can be an environmental one. Not solely is the manufacturing course of unnecessarily merciless, however it additionally generates loads of waste from discarded shuttles, which have a particularly brief shelf life. Any minor put on and tear within the shuttlecock fully ruins its integrity.
Venkatesh stated, “So in any skilled event – be it the Olympics, the All England Open or the India Open – each two to 3 factors, the shuttle is modified for a brand new one and the outdated one is thrown out.” ,” Venkatesh stated.
“It is only a waste of time. It may be used for observe, however by no means for a match. Wanting on the life cycle, after the chook has endured a lot ache, it is all pointless as a result of the shuttle can solely be used for one or two hours.” Achieved for 2 minutes after which thrown out,” he stated.
And whereas there are shuttle choices, such because the plastic variations usually utilized by kids and informal gamers, their specs don’t supply the accuracy of competition-class winged shuttles and due to this fact can’t be used on the elite stage.
Venkatesh is now hoping to vary that.
Since coming to USC Viterbi in 2018 to pursue a BS and MS in Industrial and Techniques Engineering and Engineering Administration, Venkatesh has been working below the steerage of Satyendra Okay Gupta, Smith Worldwide Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, enjoying with USC Badminton . Growing a proposal for a graphene-based shuttlecock to enhance the shuttle’s lifespan and cut back animal losses.
The analysis goals to create a commercially viable two-stage plan that can see present shuttles coated in a graphene materials first to scale back harm throughout aggressive sport and preserve the wings intact – considerably bettering product lifetime.
“So as a substitute of utilizing 30 matches, we are able to doubtlessly use just one match,” Venkatesh stated.
Venkatesh stated skilled gamers wouldn’t discover a major distinction within the shuttle, as graphene is a particularly mild and sturdy materials with good absorption properties that won’t change the shuttlecock’s weight and aerodynamics.
“This shall be a short-term answer, however the second section is a long-term answer the place we are able to fully substitute the winged shuttlecock, making a whole different utilizing different supplies,” Venkatesh stated.
The venture is presently within the early phases of conception to ascertain feasibility, whereas the following section will contain laboratory testing of the fabric. Venkatesh stated badminton has had too many traditions over the centuries, making it troublesome to fully substitute a elementary element such because the feathered shuttlecock – which is why he beforehand centered on a extra gradual two-step course of to enhance the present shuttle. are contemplating. section them out.
“There are not any merchandise on this space proper now. The Badminton World Federation is actually able to experiment with new merchandise, however for the time being they don’t have anything to experiment with,” he stated.
Whereas Venkatesh is utilizing his engineering data to enhance his beloved sport, he also can see the qualities he has acquired whereas rising up and enjoying high-level badminton throughout his engineering schooling.
Venkatesh stated, “It is a recreation the place loads of technique comes into play and it requires logical choice making, and naturally I believe on the core of engineering too, so it is undoubtedly a great match for me.” There was overlap.” “Engineering actually strengthens the left aspect of your mind and makes you assume strategically and logically, and I used to be making use of these ideas once I was enjoying badminton as nicely.”
Venkatesh was lately awarded USC Viterbi’s 2022 Excellent Achievement in Management Award and Daniel J. Awarded the Grasp of the Yr Award from the Epstein Division of Industrial and Techniques Engineering. After commencement, Venkatesh will transfer to New York Metropolis to tackle a job as PwC’s technique consulting staff technique and buyer transformation affiliate. He’s nonetheless hoping to discover a badminton staff within the Huge Apple in order that he can proceed to enhance his recreation.
“I really like the sport. I do not wish to change the way in which I play. However perhaps making it a bit extra moral can be the way in which ahead,” Venkatesh stated.
Printed on Might 12, 2022
Final up to date on June 6, 2022