5* team crosses city to join rival

February 10, 2006

Sheffield Hallam University has netted a department of top-rated sport science researchers from neighbouring Sheffield University, just days before the start of the Winter Olympics in Italy.

Sheffield Hallam mounted an aggressive recruitment campaign in the run-up to the 2008 research assessment exercise. The post-1992 university confirmed this week that it had signed up 12 researchers from the 5*-rated sports engineering group at Russell Group rival Sheffield.

Steve Haake, a sports engineering lecturer who will leave Sheffield to take up a chair at Sheffield Hallam, has been working with skeleton bobsleigh champion Kristan Bromley, one of Britain's brightest hopes in the Winter Olympics. He will travel to the competition in Turin next week.

He said: "The main thing making me move is the fact that Sheffield Hallam is taking my whole team. I've had offers over the 15 years I've been here, but I wanted something really worthy."

He added: "I could have gone alone and sat in an office, building up a whole new group. But why would I want to? I have handpicked really good people with the same work ethic."

Sheffield Hallam swung the deal by offering to move three quarters of his team from temporary contracts to open-ended permanent deals. Dr Haake said:

"One of my biggest headaches over the years has been the fact that you get a team together and then people on short-term contracts start looking around."

While many academics negotiate international and cross-country job moves, members of the group are delighted to have secured such a pain-free transfer to the other side of the city. No one will have to move house or place their children in different schools, and the majority will continue to cycle to work.

Dr Haake's team hopes that Mr Bromley will win gold next week with their help. They have modelled the aerodynamics of everything from his shoes to his helmet, assessing exactly how he will interact with his sleigh.

Dr Haake said: "He is basically going down a bobsleigh run on a tea tray head first. We optimise his equipment. A gold medal can be decided on a hundredth of a second, so everything counts."

anna.fazackerley@thes.co.uk

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