This holiday season, when you kick your feet up to watch football, remember this: There are engineers out there. Not just on college teams, but in the pros, as well.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle, Eric Fisher, for example, is a mechanical engineer. So is James Develin of the New England Patriots. This year, the National Football League (NFL) also has three cheerleaders with engineering degrees, including a systems engineer, chemical engineer, and computer engineer.
Going back a bit further in history, the founder of the NFL, George Halas, was an engineer. At least five NFL Hall-of-Famers were also engineers. One former NFL quarterback was an engineering professor. And one family, well-known to football fans (the Matthews), has had two engineer-footballers.
We’ve collected photos of current and former NFL players, coaches, and cheerleaders who once wrestled with thermodynamics. From fullbacks to mechanical engineers, we offer a brief list. Did we forget anyone? Tell us in the comments section below.
Click on the photo of Bruce Matthews below to see who else made our list.
Bruce Matthews, son of Clay Matthews, Sr., spent 19 years as a professional lineman. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California. “You know, I think playing football actually helped my grades,” he once told a USC newspaper. “My GPA was always higher in the fall, during football season, because my schedule was so tight.” (Source: Tennessee Titans)
I certainly agree with you on this one Nancy. I mentor three high school students and you would not believe the things they are told by their parents, peers and friends relative to why they can't be engineers. I spend most of my time encouraging them and not helping with homework. In each case, their ability is completely adequate for the task at hand. I certainly applaud this write-up and slideshow. It shows what can be accomplished with effort.
I'm an electrical engineer and I have to scratch my head on some of the elaborate plays the announcers show during the halftime show analysis. Yes, they do look like wiring diagrams or pcbboard traces.
Playbooks are technical and abstract in nature because of the various symbols used to represent players, positions, and movements. Engineers, as you know, deals with abstraction everyday in their work. Therefore, an athlete with an engineering background can interpret the abstraction to make a winning play. Good observation!
I agree mrdon. Actually, I was very surprised to learn the mental aspects of pro football - just look at the playbooks they have to memorize along with the ability to adjust to variations as a play unfolds...
Another good point. The body can only take so much pounding as it becomes older. A second career will allow the brain to continue to grow via problem solving tech/engineering problems. Some of the plays athletes execute requires a good amount of brain power: so having an analytical mind from engineering helps tremendously.
I agree. These remarkable folks are truly role models for today's kids. My wife and I always point out two our two teenage sons having aspirations to become NBA some of the players have law, physics, or engineering degrees. If something were to happen where they could not play their sport, they can still have decent careers to support their families.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.