Charles Owen boss honored by professorship at Cardiff University

Beezie Madden and Breitling LS, from Team USA, winners of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup 2016 at HITS Post Time Farm on Friday.
Beezie Madden, pictured on Breitling LS, is among the international riders who compete in Charles Owen helmets. ©

Charles Owen managing director Roy Burek has been made an Honorary Visiting Professor at the School of Engineering at the University of Cardiff in Wales.

Burek, a grandson of the founder of Charles Owen, has been at the forefront of helmet innovation and design, and is a supervisor for the HEADS ITN, a Horizon 2020 European €3.4 million project researching the future of sports helmet standards.

“It is an honour that you can only dream of and was totally unexpected,” Burek said. He joins his older sister as the second professor in the family, who currently holds the position of Professor in Geoconservation at Chester University.

Charles Owen managing director Roy Burek.
Charles Owen managing director Roy Burek.

Burek has also joined the recently formed Concussion and TBI Prevention research group.

In 2015 Charles Owen was chosen as one of only five first-round winners by the NFL to develop a new material to absorb the energies involved in concussions. With Burek’s extensive network, connections with Cardiff and Cambridge were established to develop a metamaterial, a material engineered to have a property that is not found in nature.

“This was an opportunity to go back to the fundamentals. Using the science of Origami, we can use theoretical mathematics to understand how to tune metamaterials to be superior. Then perfectly matching the needs of the brain to the complex geometry requires many hours of supercomputing and a deep understanding of the fast-moving science of neurotrauma,” Burek said.

“Cardiff University is recognised as a top engineering and supercomputing centre with access to the European leading brain imaging centre, CUBRIC and wide experience of additive manufacture that is necessary to create the final complex geometry in an ovaloid.”

The company was in 1911, and in 1924 Charles Owen was granted a patent that improved ventilation and dramatically improved the fit for all shapes of heads for military helmets used in the tropics.

In 1928, the first Charles Owen motorcycle helmet was born and just ten years later, the Charles Owen jockey racing helmet was worn by the winning jockey of the famous Grand National steeplechase. These early helmets have a shadow of the modern technology in today’s helmets, but their introduction had an immediate impact on the racing industry by, for example, reducing rider skull fractures by 50%.


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