Magazine article ASEE Prism

Winning Combination

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Winning Combination

Article excerpt

TAKE A PEEK inside University of San Diego student Robert Jones' backpack and you'll probably find two types of books. One with some notes on thermodynamics and differential equations-and one with X's and O's. Both require an incredible amount of Jones' time and pairing the two makes Jones a fairly unique student.

From the textbook to the playbook, Jones does it all. Jones is not only a safety for USD's Division I-AA football team, he's also an engineering major. As if that load doesn't sound tough enough for one person, seven of Jones' teammates are doing the same thing.

These scholar-athletes have a high bar to meet on both ends. San Diego's engineering program, a ninesemester program in which students graduate with a B.S. and a B.A., tied for 29th in a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of engineering programs whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's. And this fall's USD Toreros football team was ranked No. 1 in the Sports Network's I-AA MidMajor Ton 10 Poll.

It's quite a demanding schedule, Jones will be the first to admit that. His teammate Chris Gianelli, a defensive tackle and a junior in electrical engineering, agrees. "I don't see that it has a lot of complications to it, I just don't have a lot of free time," he says. Both Jones and Gianelli say pairing football and engineering is not all that odd. "The two complement each other. You really need to stay focused to accomplish anything of substance in either field," Gianelli says.

Jones, a senior in electrical engineering, says he takes some of what he learns in the classroom and puts it to work on the field. "I think with the way I approach the mental part of the game, I approach it just the same way as I would approach any kind of engineering topic." Jones says he catches on faster to the other teams' plays and patterns because he's accustomed to using his memory and recognizing patterns in engineering. …

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