MSU Launches New Athlete Engineering Institute to Drive Innovations in Human Factors, Human Performance, and Technology

April 9, 2024

David Saucier, a research engineer in the Athlete Engineering Institute, runs a test on the Motek GRAIL system in the institute's lab space.
David Saucier, a research engineer in the Athlete Engineering Institute, runs a test on the Motek GRAIL system in the institute's lab space. The clinical-grade equipment provides the research team with an immersive environment to conduct wide-ranging gait analysis in real time. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University's newest research institute is changing the game for human performance and new technologies.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees earlier this year approved the creation of the Athlete Engineering Institute, formalizing an interdisciplinary research program that has spent the last several years making an impact in sports science, industry, military, rehabilitation and technology sectors.

"Athlete Engineering is a great example of the culture we are building where faculty members can work across disciplines to make a broader impact," said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. "I am excited to see this research program continue to grow as it moves under the umbrella of a stand-alone institute."

MSU's athlete engineering research began with collaborations among faculty members in MSU's departments of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Kinesiology, as well as the School of Human Sciences, primarily focused on wearable devices for collecting performance data. It has since grown into a team comprising more than 30 affiliated faculty, staff and students.

Led by Reuben Burch, MSU associate vice president for research and economic development, Athlete Engineering has developed partnerships with college and professional sports teams, Mississippi manufacturers, military branches and others. The research team looks to develop new tools that improve performance in the four athlete personas: sports, industrial, tactical and at-risk. Athlete Engineering also leads AiM UP, a Department of Labor, Department of Defense, and AccelerateMS-funded advanced manufacturing workforce development program that partners with Mississippi community colleges.

Researchers have worked over the years to develop and validate a range of wearable performance technologies and accompanying data management systems. They have worked to bring patented technologies to market, accelerating the impact of their work and growing start-up companies. The team maintains a state-of-the-art lab with optical motion capture, force plates, electromyography and other capabilities.

"Our capabilities and expertise in all 'athlete' sectors have continuously grown over the years, allowing us to deliver solutions at a rapid pace for our partners to advance key aspects of wearable technology and other human performance technologies," Burch said. "We are taking care of people using state-of-the-art technology and data with a team that has wide-ranging scientific expertise."

For more on MSU's Athlete Engineering research team, visit

By James Carskadon