Innovation scores during the fifth annual “Rethink The Rink” hockey make-a-thon

The 2022 make-a-thon featured an “assist” from PPG and Athletica Sports Systems.

Five days, four teams, one goal: to make the sport of hockey safer without impacting the integrity of the game. This was the fifth time that Covestro organized the "Rethink the Rink" make-a-thon together with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Pittsburgh Penguins — with an assist from Athletica Sports Systems and, for the first time, coatings manufacturer PPG.

This year, the focus of the make-a-thon was on improving the interfaces between the glass and the dasher boards.

Over the course of the week-long event, CMU students developed, designed and prototyped their ideas at the university’s innovation space, called TechSpark. Along the way, the students received coaching from the technical experts at Covestro, PPG and Athletica as well as the staff from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This year’s challenge was to increase the flexibility and strength of materials used in the dasher board systems surrounding the rink to protect against player injuries. At the same time, optimal solutions would be scratch resistant and easier to maintain.

After only a few days to prepare their prototypes and pitches, the students presented their concepts at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. The students took inspiration from real-world applications to create their designs—from the architecture of bridges to the flexibility and strength of tree fibers.

“These students were thinking about the materials I work with every day. Some of these folks had never heard of materials like thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) and polycarbonate. So, seeing them be so inventive with our products is something I can take back to my work.”

Mark Bondi

EP Application Development and Make-a-Thon Coach/Judge

After deliberating, the judges made their final decision:

  • Best overall: Purple Team
  • Best prototype: Gold Team
  • Most innovative: Blue Team

While there was only one overall winner, each of the team’s ideas will be explored by the Rethink the Rink team in order to identify future, tangible solutions.

Relive the week through our award ceremony livestream.

Keep up with progress on social media by following #RethinkTheRink on Twitter.

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