Heidi Ploeg: Designing healthier components for female cyclists

Posted on 27. Aug, 2012 by in

Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Heidi Ploeg

A fruitful partnership with Wisconsin’s own Trek Bicycle helped Ploeg merge her research with her personal passion for cycling. The result is an influential line of new bike saddles and gloves designed with gender differences in mind.

“The Trek project brings many things together for me. As a female cyclist, I have a lot of interest in making bicycle riding not only more comfortable, but safer for women. So it’s more than just a comfort issue; it’s really a health issue as well.

I think we did make a big impact with this project. The research data got translated very quickly into a product. We basically had a year of research and a year of development, and then the products we designed were in stores. Trek came up with the awesome name of InForm for this series of products, which started with the saddle designs and then expanded to our research on riding gloves.

To me, innovation means more than just a good idea. It means something that actually gets used. I think there are a lot of good ideas, but unless they get applied, the value of the innovation hasn’t been realized.

We work as a group, and innovation comes from all kinds of sources. It can be planned and organized, or very unexpected. And I love being in this type of environment that helps produce these innovations. But I don’t feel like it’s my innovation, or that I’m the innovator and it’s my product. It’s absolutely a collaborative process.”

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