They ran, they swam, they competed: Engineering faculty and staff who were college athletes a rare bunch

Studying engineering is challenging. Participating in college athletics is challenging. Doing both? Not for the meek.

“I was on the MIT Cross Country and Track teams, but just during my freshman year in 1968-69,” said Allan Kirkpatrick, emeritus professor in mechanical engineering. “The first day of practice we ran a 3-mile loop. I thought that was the day’s workout, only to find that was just the warmup.

A picture of women running in a track and field event.
Jessica Thrasher, center with sunglasses, competes in a race at Southern Methodist University.

“College athletics, even at the Division III level, is very demanding,” Kirkpatrick said. “The coaches were masters at helping us balance our schoolwork with workouts. Most of us on the team were skinny engineering students whose socks would not stay up.”

The Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering boasts a few famous alumni who are athletes. They include Trent Sieg, former CSU long snapper who now plays for the Las Vegas Raiders, and Mostafa Hassan, twice NCAA champion in shot put who competed for Egypt in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Another alumnus, Wade Troxell, played center for CSU football in the 1970s and now serves on the CSU faculty. He’s one of only a handful of engineering faculty and staff who were athletes in college.

There are also some – like Jeff Pierce, Atmospheric Science professor – who were competitive in high school and are still athletic. Pierce, a swimmer, didn’t swim in college but several weeks ago, he won Masters state champ in his age group in five events.

A picture of CSU football players huddling in the 1970s.
Wade Troxell, No. 55, played center for CSU in the 1970s and still holds the team bench record.

“I burned out at the end of high school and wanted to play music instead,” Pierce said. “However, it left me room to peak at swimming in my 40s, which wouldn’t have been possible if I swam in college.”

Jim Adams, assistant professor of Systems Engineering, played ice hockey with his club team while he was working on his Ph.D. at Wright State University. And Dan Herber, also assistant professor in Systems Engineering, was a member of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s cross country and track club for four years. He ran 8k, 3k steeplechase, 1500m and 800m.

Some of the other notable college athletes associated with CSU engineering:

Dave Alciatore (Emeritus Professor, Mechanical Engineering): Ran track and cross country at the University of New Orleans. Specialized in the 5K and steeplechase.

Todd Bandhauer (Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering): Played quarterback for Iowa State University all four years in the late 1990s and held multiple team records as recently as 2020. Recruited to Iowa State by Jay Norvell, hired as CSU football head coach in 2021.

Brett Beal (Senior Academic Undergraduate Advisor, School of Biomedical Engineering): Swimmer, 100- and 200-yard breaststroke for Scripps College. Fifth in the nation her senior year, scholar athlete of the year upon graduation and the first NCAA All American swimmer for the school.

Margaret Cheney (Professor of Mathematics with joint appointment in Electrical and Computer Engineering): Competed in swimming and diving at Oberlin College where she is in the Hall of Fame. As a Masters athlete, she won the 2006 World 3m championship in her age group.

A photo of Shane Garland running.
Shane Garland runs in a track event at Bradley University.

Shane Garland (Research Associate, REACH CoLab, Mechanical Engineering): Ran cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track at Bradley University. Primarily ran the 8k, 800m, 1500m, and mile.

Allan Kirkpatrick (Emeritus Professor, Mechanical Engineering): Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cross country and track. Ran the 1500 and the mile.

Dan Olsen (Professor, Mechanical Engineering): Played baseball – second base and short stop – at Eastern Oregon State College. Hit over 300 his sophomore year.

Ken Reardon (Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering): Swimmer all four years at the University of Pennsylvania. Also a member of the water polo club. Competed with a Masters team while in graduate school at Caltech.

Jessica Thrasher (Education and Outreach Manager, Colorado Stormwater Center, Civil and Environmental Engineering): Ran track and field and cross country at Southern Methodist University. Ran the 5k, 1500m, 3000m and 1600m in the Distance Medley Relay.

Wade Troxell (Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering): Played football center for Colorado State University. Served as co-captain his senior year (1978) and lettered and started all four years. Still holds the team bench press record of 455 pounds.

Ted Watson (Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering): Played football at Vanderbilt University for two seasons (missing all his Saturday organic chemistry classes for games in his sophomore season) before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin where he threw the discus for the track team.

Carl Wilmsen (Emeritus Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering): Ran cross-country and half-mile, mile and 2-mile at Texas A&M University. Ran steeplechase in the U.S. Army.