Biomechanics of Skateboarding

Skateboarding has gone from surfing wannabe to the most rad of all Olympic sports. It’s a sport rich in creativity and athleticism. As a biomechanist and longtime (yet, mediocre) skateboarder, Prof Soto is psyched to launch a new project to study the biomechanics of skateboarding. 

The goal of this research is to characterize the relationship between the physics of skateboarding maneuvers (skate tricks like the Ollie, tre-flip, frontside air, etc…) and the limb and muscle mechanics of the skateboarder performing these maneuvers. We will develop mathematical models to understand the physics of skate tricks, gather data from skate videos to test and refine our models, and use/build sensors to gather data for biomechanical analyses. This project will lay the groundwork for future research to evaluate the energetic demands of skateboarding.

This opportunity is for research credit (1-2 credits) during spring semester with the goal of continuing onto a paid summer research internship. The student researchers will be mentored by Prof Soto with the opportunity for collaboration with students in the LAIR research group. 

To apply for this research opportunity, please respond to the following questions:

  1. What aspect of this project is most interesting to you and why? 
  2. What skills and/or experience do you have that will be valuable for success in this project?


Name of research group, project, or lab
The SotoLab
Why join this research group or lab?

The SotoLab studies the biomechanics of locomotion. We have been primarily focused on aquatic locomotion, but the foundational principles of biomechanics apply equally well to other forms of locomotion and across species. Prof Soto is really excited to launch this new project that bridges science and skateboarding. Plans for data collection include visits to our field sites, local skateparks. Our research techniques include high-speed video, image processing and computer vision, mathematical modeling, and robotics. We are innately interdisciplinary: biomechanics has roots in biology, physics, and engineering.

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Computer Vision
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

This work requires experience in modeling physical and mechanical systems (e.g., coursework in E79). Experience with image processing a plus. 

Time commitment
Spring - Part Time
Summer - Full Time
Academic Credit
Paid Research
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Students will learn how to model and simulate dynamic rigid bodies and collect human locomotion data from skate videos. 

Contact Information:
Mentor name
Alberto Soto
Mentor email
Mentor position
Postdoctoral Scholar, Principal Investigator
Name of project director or principal investigator
Alberto Soto
Email address of project director or principal investigator
2 sp. | 0 appl.
Hours per week
Spring - Part Time (+1)
Spring - Part TimeSummer - Full Time
Project categories
Computer Vision (+3)
EngineeringPhysicsBiomechanicsComputer Vision