BEng Extreme Sports Engineering

  • extreme sport engineering
  • extreme sport engineering
  • extreme sport engineering

Traditional engineering topics such as materials, manufacturing, stress analysis and fluid flow are brought into the 21st century and applied to this exciting new extreme sports industry.

Key Facts

UCAS Code: H340
Institution Code: T80
Course Length:
3 Years

Location:
Swansea
School/Faculty:
School of Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics
Contact Name:
Kelvin Lake
Contact Email:
engineering@uwtsd.ac.uk
Language Choice
English  

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There have been huge increases in the number of people that participate in sports such as surfing, kitesurfing, skating and snowboarding. This course provides a unique degree programme in the UK specialising in the Engineering, Development and Optimisation of equipment for the Extreme Sports Industry.

Advances in equipment, materials and manufacturing techniques mean that sports that were seen as dangerous or ‘extreme’ until relatively recently are now becoming more main stream. This industry has significant opportunities for graduates with in depth knowledge of the science and manufacturing behind these sports. The main target group for this course would be full time students completing level 3 qualifications who are interested in this industry.

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David provides a unique BEng degree programme in the UK specialising in the Engineering, Development and Optimisation of equipment for the Extreme Sports Industry. Advances in equipment, materials and manufacturing techniques mean that sports that were seen as dangerous or ‘extreme’ until relatively recently are now becoming more main stream. This has resulted in huge increases in the number of people that participate in surfing, kitesurfing, skating and snowboarding for example.

In the U.S., in excess of 22 million people participate in ‘extreme’ sports and ‘action sports’ now generate one-third of sporting goods sales amounting to more than $14 billion. The growth of this industry has been so dramatic that sport participants in the U.S. have increased by about 10% over the last decade, despite the fact that participants in dominant sports such as basketball have decreased.

In the first year, you would study: Engineering Science, Mathematics, Engineering Design, Materials and Introduction to Manufacturing Technology.

In the second year, you would study: Group Project, Thermofluid Mechanics, Management Innovation and Sustainability, CAE and Stress Analysis, Extreme Sports Engineering and Rapid Product Development.

In the final year, you would study: Major Project, Stress Analysis and FEA, Materials and Manufacturing for Niche Markets, Extreme Sports Entrepreneurship.

Sporting economic activity in England alone increased from £3,358 million in 1985 to £10,373 million in 2000 and £15,471 million in 2005.  This represents a real increase of 124% compared to the English economy which grew by 67% in the same period (Sheffield Hallam University, 2007), demonstrating the relative economic importance of this industry.

The participation of ‘extreme’ sports in the UK is huge.  0.7% (approximately 4.2 million) of all adults in the UK said that they engaged in an extreme sport in 2006 (Manley, June 2007).  Approximately 1% of adults were reported to be skiers and 0.3% were snowboarders, 0.7% were climbing enthusiasts, whilst regular participation in surfing was 0.4%, 0.2% for water skiing and 0.1% for wind surfing. (Manley, June 2007) Of these industries, surfing is one of the fastest growing sports in the United Kingdom (Ward, Unknown).

In the U.S., in excess of 22 million people participate in ‘extreme’ sports (Active Marketing Group, 2007) and ‘action sports’ now generate one-third of sporting goods sales amounting to more than $14 billion.  The growth of this industry has been so dramatic that sport participants in the U.S. have increased by about 10% over the last decade, despite the fact that participants in dominant sports such as basketball have decreased (Park, 2004). 

The School has significant expertise with respect to mechanical engineering topics, this course simply applies this expertise to this industry in areas such as the following;

  • Manufacturing: Composites (mountain bikes, surfboards, wakeboards etc), plastics, wood, joining techniques (fixings for bindings, welding of tubes on frames, adhesives), fabrics (Kites etc), metals (skateboard trucks etc) and bearings.
  • Stress analysis: Flex of boards (a rider on a skateboard, surfboard or snowboard), stress concentrations (fixing points for bindings/kite lines), fatigue, thin cylinder theory (stress in bladders on kites) and Finite Element Analysis.
  • Fluid flow (over boards, past kites/parachutes): CFD, wind tunnel testing and coupling of fluids (water and air)
  • Vibrations/damping (of boards)
  • Dynamics/suspension (mountain bikes): Dynamic/impact loading
  • Heat transfer (loss of heat through a wetsuit)
  • Non destructive testing: Defects in composites
  • Quality

In addition, further expertise from elsewhere in the faculty will be drawn upon in the following areas;

  • Entrepreneurship (starting a business)
  • Marketing and self-promotion
  • Running a small business
  • Product liability
  • Health and safety (composites manufacture)
  • Patents and IP

Resources that will facilitate this course include:

  • Autoclave and hot press for manufacturing composites.
  • Laser Doppler Vibrometer for vibration analysis
  • Hounsfield/Dennsion for materials testing
  • Strain gauge acquisition equipment
  • Thermal imaging cameras
  • Microscopes
  • Various Software including;
    • LabView for data Acquisition
    • NX/Solidworks
    • Fluent
    • Matlab
    • Design Studio

Students on this type of programme come with a natural interest in their specialism and the teaching team aims to tap into this interest so students enjoy learning and appreciate the benefits which an engineering degree can add to reinforce their areas of interest.

The assessments for the programme will be a mix of coursework and formal examination. Modules such as group project and Major project will also have presentations where you would be given the opportunity to showcase your work.

For our BEng degrees, our offers are based on 112 points (previously 280) from numerate or technical A level subjects, to include Maths or Physics at Grade B or above. We will accept a National Diploma, Certificate, two National Awards or the new 14-19 Diploma in Technical subjects, but 24 points of the 112 must come from A level/AS Maths or Physics. Providing you can achieve the points required, two A levels would be sufficient if at grade B with 60 points made up from other qualifications. Generally, we would expect you to achieve the points required from three A levels.

Also available as a four year programme (including foundation year)


The extreme sports industry is a significant and growing employer. In 2005 sport-related employment was estimated to be 434,000, accounting for 1.8% of all employment in England and it grew by 19% over the previous 5 years (Sheffield Hallam University, 2007). This industry consists of retail, provision and marketing, however it also contains a sophisticated manufacturing element.­

(Rotherham, Egan, & Egan, 2005) Sport related manufacturing increased in England by 24%, over the 2005-2008 period, and in 2008, employed 11,500 people. (Sport industry research centre, August 2010) In 2005 the UK exported £7.6m-worth of watersports equipment (Manley, June 2007).

The UK surf industry reported sales of £200 million pounds in 2007, with the manufacturing element of the surfing element in Cornwall alone estimated to be £62 million/year (The independent, 2004). As with other manufacturing in the UK, manufacturers can no longer compete with low-cost producers, hence the bias in exports is towards premium well engineered products (Manley, June 2007).

The use of advanced materials such as composites continue to grow in the leisure industry and are now regularly used for the manufacture of surfboards, wakeboards and skateboards etc. Specific opportunities for growth have been identified in youth leisure goods such as snowboards by the department of trade and industry (Department of trade and industry, 2001). This has lead to significant growth of composite manufacturers that specialise in these areas. The proportion of composite manufacturers in Wales that focus on sport and leisure now exceeds both the aerospace and the automotive industries (Sienz, 2009).

The UK had 430 producers of sports equipment in 2006. The majority of these producers are small with an average turnover of £544,000 and only 25 of the manufacturers achieving £5m or more in annual sales (Manley, June 2007) Of these producers, 260 had fewer than 5 employees, with many of these expected to be sole traders. As such, whilst some students on this course will find employment with relatively large manufactures, many of them will be expected to start their own business and will be given the skills to do so.

Swansea is ideally suited to provide engineers to this industry as water sports manufacturers tend to locate themselves close to the coast (Manley, June 2007) as demonstrated by the location of many manufactures in the local vicinity due to ease of testing and the desire of people to be close to the coast so that they can participate in this industry. The UK also has the added advantage that there are particular equipment requirements for water sports users in northern climates that offer further opportunities to manufactures in the UK as the ability to survive in cold waters for more than a few minutes at a time, let alone enjoy them, requires specialized and relatively expensive equipment. (Ward, Unknown).

Swansea has access to world class mountain biking at Afan Forest and Cwmcarn, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing along the South Wales coast, Snowboarding on dry ski slopes (and occasionally in the Breacon Beacons!), wakeboarding behind a boat at Oxwich Bay or on a cable tow, Sea and white water Kayaking, as well as Skateboard parks and climbing walls, meaning that you can participate in your passion whilst you study and can test the products that you design and build locally.