McCormick Magazine

Eric Peterman goes deep - into engineering and football

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Eric PetermanEric Peterman (industrial engineering and management sciences '09) barely has time for himself between his studies, playing for the Northwestern Wildcats football team, and serving on the McCormick Student Advisory Board. But that's just fine with him — he loves playing football and loves being involved with the school. As he finishes up his junior year, Peterman hopes his future holds a career in football or the airline industry.

Why did you choose industrial engineering and management sciences as a major?
When I came here I just wanted to be an engineer. My freshman adviser, Jared Tuberty, was a great guy who helped me choose between industrial engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering. I told him what I was interested in, and he suggested some classes for me to take. I love dealing with numbers, and I think that is something that the industrial engineering and management sciences department really demands. I like working with optimization, and I enjoy making things efficient, whether it's how I design my room or how I manage my time when I do my homework. I'm currently taking five classes, so time management is really important.

What is it like playing on the football team?
I love it. I've played sports my whole life, and I came to Northwestern as a quarterback. Two weeks into my freshman season, some wide receivers got injured, so I volunteered to step up into the position. It actually worked out well — I got to play my freshman year, and I started in 2006 and 2007. Playing in the Big Ten — one of the best sports conferences in the country — is just a great opportunity. I feel like Northwestern is an Ivy League school that participates in the Big Ten, so you get the best of both worlds. It's tough, though, because football takes up a lot of time. We practice year-round. Even in the spring, I get up at 6 a.m. and work out from 7 until 9 a.m. Then I have class all day, and then I do my homework at night.

How did you get involved with the McCormick Student Advisory Board?
I saw an e-mail looking for applications, so I applied, went through the interview process, and was accepted. The board acts as a liaison between student groups and faculty. It also oversees other student groups — right now one of our big projects is putting together an application for student groups to be recognized by McCormick. We also plan Engineering Week [a week of events for undergraduates that encourages interdisciplinary interaction, collaboration, and innovation]. I'm also on the committee for the Harold B. Gotaas Undergraduate Research Award, which is given to the senior who presents the best research paper. I just like being involved and having a say in what goes on at McCormick — I don't just want to be another student walking around. I like interacting with the faculty — Steve Carr [associate dean for undergraduate engineering] was my professor freshman year, and we've had a good relationship since then.

What are your future plans?
I'd like to play in the NFL if the opportunity presents itself, but otherwise I'd like to work in the airline industry. I'm fascinated with the idea of mapping routes and creating networks. This summer I'm going to work as a consultant with Aon, a risk management and reinsurance company based in Chicago.

—Emily Ayshford