Professor Steve Stannard (right) with student and elite track cyclist Gemma Payne.

New mobile exercise lab launched

One of Massey University’s newest science laboratories will not be staying on the campus for very long – that is because this laboratory is a 2.5 metre by 7 metre long trailer designed to bring the learning experience to distance students and elite athletes all over the country.

The Massey University School of Sport and Exercise Science’s ‘Human Engine Room’ was unveiled today in a battle of fitness on the Manawatū campus concourse. Students were given the opportunity to test the mobile lab, and themselves, by jumping on an electronically-braked exercise bike and getting a measure of their VO2 max – the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can use.

Along with the exercise bike, the lab possesses the ability to house a treadmill and gas analysis equipment – allowing oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production to be measured to calculate energy consumption or food utilization during exercise.

It is operated by two lab technicians who are trained sport scientists. The lab is powered by its own generator or can be connected to the grid. 

Professor Steve Stannard, who initiated the project, said the idea is to bring the teaching laboratory to students.

“The idea came from a couple of students who were elite athletes but couldn’t finish their degree in sport and exercise science because they couldn’t do the practical component of the papers. We wanted to make it possible for them. That idea grew and now we can bring the lab to the people so to speak.”

Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said the Human Engine Room is a great addition to Massey University’s distance learning strategy. “What we try to do as a university is be the leading edge of research and teaching” he said. “High performance athletes are increasingly attracted to the university not only because we allow them to perform at the level they are at but also because they know they’ll get a quality qualification.”

“Sport and exercise is going to be a major area that will continue developing in the university. Particularly because, in a country like new Zealand, sport is so central to the way we think about ourselves.”

The Human Engine Room is an initiative of the School of Sport and Exercise Science with funding from the Massey University Strategic Innovation Fund – a grant designed to enable new educational technology initiatives.

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