Mark Hatcher played football for four years at University of Wisconsin-Stout and knows firsthand about suffering a concussion.

Hatcher, who graduated Dec. 16 with a degree in industrial design, designed a football helmet for his senior project, with the goal to try to prevent traumatic brain injuries. Such injuries are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth in the skull.

Repeated blows to the head may cause a degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In a medical survey published regarding the disease, Dr. Ann McKee found that 110 out of 111 brains of deceased National Football League players showed evidence of the disease.

“NFL players are dying because of it,” Hatcher said. “The future of football is at risk.”

Hatcher’s helmet has plates on the front, top and back that move independently to reduce shock from hits. Helmets also could be designed specifically for players’ positions depending on the hits they are most likely to receive, he noted.

“It has a multidirectional impact protection system,” Hatcher said. “The shell of the helmet moves, reducing sloshing of the brain.”

Playing football inspired the new design. “I played offensive line,” Hatcher said. “I’ve had a few concussions in my day.”

Yet football has taught him the importance of character, being accountable and time management, Hatcher said. “Without football I wouldn’t be where I am,” said Hatcher, whose hometown is Littleton, Colo. “This is really about knowing everything football taught me and seeing it could be done.”

Hatcher named the helmet Aries for the Greek mythological god of war. Football is seen as a type of war and football players as the gladiators, Hatcher explained.

More than 100 projects

Hatcher was one of more than 100 seniors from the School of Art and Design,, who shared their projects Dec. 15 at the Senior Show in the Applied Arts Building. The event included a juried student art show.

Senior Rob Grinde, an industrial design major, developed a new tent design called Roamer NX-2. The tent has a built-in air mattress and angled stakes to help keep ropes taut. “It’s simple, but that’s the way it should be to get the job done,” Grinde said.

“I wanted to create something I was interested in,” said Grinde, whose hometown is Deephaven, Minn. “I love camping and fishing. It made sense to make a tent.”

The Roamer has a spacious rectangular design with doors on both ends to allow for greater access for two people. A rain sheet covers the tent and has space to store gear out of the elements, said Grinde, who will graduate in May.

The tent also has a hole in the corner, allowing debris or sand to be easily dumped out once the mattress is deflated.

Kelly Senter, who graduated in industrial design, created an upscale shelf for community food pantries. The shelf includes cut-out designs of succulent plants as well as a place to hang clothing items for those in need and space for canned goods and hygiene products.

“I really wanted to design something that had more of a social impact,” said Senter, whose hometown is Salem. “I wanted to make it feel more like shopping to give them a confidence boost.”

Paco Castro, majoring in studio art, created a sculpture of the bathroom of his family home in Hudson. “The influence is an old house, something I can’t go back to,” Castro said, explaining his parents have split up. “When I came home it was never the same. There was a feeling of not having a home.”

Made from pallet wood and plaster, the sculpture uses part realism with faucet handles and a toilet seat but allows the imagination to fill in the details. Castro picked the bathroom because it’s a refuge and place of solitude. “It’s yours when you use it,” Castro said. “This is real important to me both literally and figuratively.”

Part of the Senior Show included furniture designs. Logan Brooks, a junior majoring in industrial design, designed a chair with a seat made from a slab of pine. He used small pieces of walnut cut in a bowtie shape to prevent cracks from expanding in the seat. The chair has a white metal back and legs.

“I am definitely a fan of more minimal design and traditional woodworking,” Brooks said. “I wanted to do something fun with a more delicate design.”

Lacey Winchester, who graduated in graphic design, developed a mock campaign for Dead Art taxidermy. “It’s definitely appropriate for the area,” said Winchester, from Wilson. “It’s interesting to see people’s reactions.”

Winchester, who has been interested in taxidermy since she was young, plans to move to Arizona and take a six-month class in taxidermy to learn to mount birds.

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Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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