International Society of Biomechanics
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Student Travel Reports

The opportunity to study overseas is an important experience for any student during their graduate years. After finishing my masters degree, I looked for a novel experience and the opportunity to conduct my PhD in New Zealand was an exciting idea.  The first contact with Professor Patria Hume and the following support of my other supervisors, Dr. James Croft and Associate Professor Andrew Kilding, was important for my acceptance as a full-time PhD student in Sport and Exercise at AUT University. My project has a focus on body position on the bicycle and the effects on knee predicted forces and cycling performance.

Since March, I have been working with my supervisors on improving the preliminary proposal of my thesis. We have included more studies focusing on technique and body position analysis. I have worked on adapting the pair of pedal dynamometers I borrowed from my home university in Brazil. This process involved more time than in the primary plan, but now the pilot study is underway and we are working on solving small technical problems.

2009-bini-0006-300x225.jpg I also had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for the AUT Running Mechanics research group involving three-dimensional analysis of running performance of children before and after hip strength training. My duties were related to tracking markers using Qualisys and Visual 3D software and to develop Matlab scripts for initial data analyses. Dr. Croft and Chris Whatman helped me with these stages. A second project that I was involved in aimed to analyze cricket bowler and batsman movement. I gained experience in developing scripts in Matlab to analyze image sequences.

The experience of studying at AUT has been different from my masters' experience. I had less contact with other students and the laboratory environment was not as busy as it used to be in my home university. Because of the problems with the pedal equipment, I could only start collecting data and making contact with athletes and coaches in September 2009. The next year of study is promising in terms of improving contact with coaches and athletes, and getting the cycling community more involved with the project. We aim to give cyclists biomechanics feedback that can help them with their training.

My private experiences were also important for my development. I had difficultly adapting to being far away from my family and friends, but I am slowly changing my lifestyle and spending more time working. Unfortunately, I have not been able to travel around the beautiful country of New Zealand because my budget has been very tight. The travel grant and my work as a research assistant have made it possible for me to conduct the PhD. I received the approval of my PhD scholarship for study at AUT from Brazil at the end of September. Now, the plan for 2010 allows me to start getting more experience out of the university.

I would like to thank the International Society of Biomechanics and everyone who believed that I could do a good job. The opportunity I have received has been challenging and hard, but I see a promising future and lots of evolution for the following years.

Rodrigo Bini