8 Engineers Who Competed in the Olympics

  • Sean Furey, Rio, Olympics

    American javelin thrower Sean Furey competes in Rio this year after representing the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

    In the 2012 Olympics, Furey made the longest throw by an American and was ranked number 16 in the world. He placed 18th in his group and 37th overall.

    The Massachusetts native will compete in track and field in Rio this current Olympic games.

    Furey currently lives in San Diego, Calif., and works part-time at Raytheon as a mechanical engineer doing what he has reportedly described as ""bomb-proofing electronics"" for the United States Navy.

    He is pictured here competing in Germany in 2014.


    (Image Source: Facebook, @SeanPFurey)

  • Mark de Jonge had a promising career in engineering under way when he left to train for the 2012 games.

    The Canadian Olympian graduated from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a degree in civil engineering in 2009. He worked at Stantec Consulting as an engineering in training before focusing on the sport.

    De Jonge almost stayed an engineer. He nearly gave up on sprint canoeing after failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

    He went on to win a bronze medal in the K-1 200m at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. This year in Rio he will compete in the men’s kayak single 200m.

    He is pictured here at the 2013 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.


    (Image Source: Olaf Kosinsky/Wikipedia)

  • Catherine Skinner, Rio, Olympics, gold medal, trap shooting, Australia, New Zealand

    Catherine Skinner is having a good year overall and a great week in Rio. The Australian Olympian took a gold in women's trap shooting after hitting 12 of 15 shots in the finals against New Zealand's Natalie Rooney. To qualify for the gold match, Skinner hit 14 of 15 shots in the first stage of the finals.

    Skinner, 26, isn’t just celebrating her Olympic medals this year. She and family are cheering on her graduation from RMIT, a global university of technology and design in Australia. The athlete took eight years to complete her degree in chemical engineering, fitting her studies and sports into her schedule.

    She is pictured here in Rio with her gold medal.


    (Image Source: Twitter, @AlisterNicho)

  • Stephen Ogochukwu Mozia, Summer Olympics, Rio

    US-born Nigerian shot putter Stephen Ogochukwu Mozia competes this month, already having several non-Olympic wins to his name, not to mention a mechanical engineering degree.

    Mozia is a mechanical engineering graduate of Cornell University, where he was a member of the Quill and Dagger society. He also works as a marketing engineer for Emerson before focusing on his sport, a job he was reportedly offered before graduating.

    The New Jersey-native competes in track and field at the current Rio games.

    He is pictured here after qualifying for the Olympics.


    (Image Source, Instragram, @cu_moz)

  • John W. Loaring, Summer Olympics, Rio

    Not only was John W. Loaring an Olympian, but a WWII hero and radar engineer.

    Canada's Loaring claimed a silver medal in the 400-metre hurdles at the 1936 Olympics, most famous for the accomplishments of Jesse Owens. He expected to compete in more Olympic games but served the Allies, instead.

    In 1940, while serving as a Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Radar Officer on loan to the British, Loaring was credited with reviving three people. For that, he was commended by the Ontario branch of the Royal Life Saving Society.

    Loaring was honored this month by the University of Windsor Athletics Club, which renamed its Windsor Open Track Meet the John W. Loaring Memorial Track and Field Meet.

    He is pictured here training in 1937 Canada.


    (Image Source: Wikipedia)

  • Ray Ewry, summer olympics, Rio, Polio

    Confined to a wheelchair as a child due to Polio, Ray Ewry did what exercises he could and overcame the illness. The Indiana native went on to attend Purdue, where he captained the track and field team, played football, and earned a graduate degree in mechanical engineering in 1897. He moved to New York after graduation where he worked as a hydraulics engineer.

    The American athlete and engineer participated in the 1900 Paris Games, the 1904 St. Louis Games, and the 1908 London Games, taking home a total of eight gold medals in the standing long jump, standing high jump, and standing triple jump. The combined wins were a record for an individual, only recently broken by Michael Phelps more than 100 years after Ewry’s medals were awarded.

    With his medals won, Ewry returned to work as an engineer, designing boilers for US naval vessels during WWI and organizing the construction of an aqueduct from the Catskill Mountains to New York.

    He is pictured here at a practice for the 1908 London games.


    (Image Source: Wikipedia)

  • Bruce Gemmell, Summer Olympics, Rio

    A young Bruce Gemmell swam at the University of Michigan and qualified for the US Olympic Trials in 1980 and 1984, but that’s not where his wins came.

    Currently assistant women's coach for the United States Olympic Swimming Team, Gemmell is a coach at the Nation's Capital Swim Club, where he has worked with athletes including two-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky and Andrew Gemmell, his son and a 2012 Summer Olympian. Gemmell also has been named coach of the year by the American Swim Coaches Association three times.

    Gemmell’s coaching career almost never was. While at the University of Michigan he had been encouraged by coaching legend Jon Urbanchek to find a job in engineering, his college major. Although Gemmell did work as a mechanical engineer for some time, reportedly at companies including Kimberly Clark and Siemens, he ultimately decided to focus on swim coaching.

    He is pictured here with swimmers for at the FINA World Championships in Spain, 2013.


    (Image Source: Twitter, @CoachGemmell)

  • Teofilo Stevenson, Summer Olympics, Rio

    A national hero in Cuba, Teofilo Stevenson was a three-time gold-medalist Olympic boxer. Many boxing experts believe that the six-foot-five-inch Stevenson was better than any professional heavyweight of his era, and fight promoters tried unsuccessfully to set up a match between him and Muhammad Ali during the 1970s. According to Sports Illustrated, he studied electrical engineering. Wikipedia lists him as an amateur boxer and engineer, but it;s not clear that Stevenson ever worked as a practicing engineer. He remained in Cuba until his death in 2012 and never fought professionally.
    (Source: Wikipedia/Bundesarchiv_Bild)

Who says engineers aren't athletic?

When the games are over and the medals awarded, Olympic athletes and coaches do more than model for cereal boxes. Take a look at these eight global engineers who have competed in past Olympics or are competing in Rio this month.

With more than 15 years' experience covering tech and working with engineers, Suzanne Deffree is Editor-in-Chief of Design News and Content Director for UBM Advanced Manufacturing. Find her at UBM's various in-person events for engineers including the Embedded Systems Conference, ATX, and DesignCon.

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