Academic All-Americans: a balance of academics and athletics


February 29, 2016

“With sports, you have to be disciplined, knowing when to work hard and when to enjoy yourself.”

So says junior Brian Khoury, who has taken this mantra to heart, resulting in an excellent balance of academics and athletics—a balance Carnegie Mellon’s athletes from all departments are known for. Two of our College of Engineering athletes, however, have taken this balance to the next level.

In recognition of their outstanding academic records and incredible talent on the field, Khoury and fellow junior Andreas Fatschel have been recognized as 2015 Academic All-Americans by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The award recognizes student athletes who have shown proficiency on the field and in the classroom, maintaining both a 3.30 GPA or higher and a starting position on their team.

“It’s an honor to receive the award,” says Khoury. “Many people helped along the way. It’s flattering to be recognized for the work leading up to and throughout the season.”

Khoury studies Electrical and Computer Engineering and has been named to the 2015 Academic All-America Division III football team. In addition to his academics and athletics, the defensive lineman has also been involved with several extracurricular groups on campus and participates in many robotics ventures.

“Freshman year, I became involved in Carnegie Mellon Solar Racing,” says Khoury. “We made a solar-powered boat and had the chance to compete in Europe.”

Khoury and a team of fellow ECE students also participated in the spring 2016 Build18, which was held on January 15. “My group was working on a quadrotor,” says Khoury. “We tried to build one from scratch using an Arduino, motor controllers, and machined rotors and frame.”

Andreas Fatschel, a junior studying Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, has been named to the 2015 Academic All-America Division III men’s soccer team. Fatschel, who is a starting defender for the Tartan soccer team, balances his academics and athletics with research in BME Associate Professor Keith Cook’s lab, aiming toward a career in prosthetic and medical robotics device design, and with on- and off-campus volunteering.

“One of the research projects I’m interested in is creating TALs, or thoracic artificial lungs, which we hope to use to sustain a patient awaiting a lung transplant for a target of a month. There are a lot of people awaiting these lungs, but the availability of lung donations is not high enough. These TALs, if they can be made safe enough to last thirty days, could allow a patient to await new lungs at home and not be restricted to their hospital bed.”

Fatschel attributes much of his success during the transition into college to his teammates, “the older guys that show you the ropes and are your support group.” In turn, Fatschel and his team have become “the older guys” and mentors to a high schooler through volunteering with the Team IMPACT program.

“We mentor a boy [who] has a muscle dystrophy disorder and is confined to a wheelchair, and we include him in a lot of our events,” says Fatschel. “He’ll come to soccer games, we hang out with him, we even went to Dave and Buster’s with him for an afternoon during the season. He’s really one of the team members.”

This sense of teamwork and inclusion is what Khoury and Fatschel agree is at the root of maintaining their balance between school and sport.

“Classes can become overwhelming.” says Khoury. “Sports give me a chance to interact with people from different backgrounds and majors. Sometimes the intangible nature of working with people toward a common goal helps keeps you motivated.”