Mechanical engineering student, football player to 'seize his opportunity'

October 9, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – As a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering (ME), Christopher Welde was convinced in 2016 by his friends to attend an open try-out for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team.

“They didn’t even tell me what the first meeting was really for,” he said. Anticipating his hesitance, he said his friends described it as a club sports meeting.

But when he instead arrived at the football information session, he realized, “When I thought about it, I’ve never wanted to limit myself or my possibilities so I just went for it.”

Already an exceptional student in mechanical engineering, Welde added another accomplishment to his resume and earned one of the three walk-on spots two weeks later. 

Now in his senior year and with two football seasons under his belt, he said, “It’s been an amazing experience so far, going to the Rose Bowl and Big Ten championship especially. But what surprised me is how much Coach Franklin also pushes academic success for all of us.”

For Welde, the encouragement is working. With a cumulative GPA of 3.94 (which he says he is eager to raise), he earned a Distinguished Scholar Award from the Big Ten for 2017-18 and was named to the Penn State All-Academic Team for his outstanding work.

“That really meant a lot to me, to be recognized for my academic accomplishments in addition to my athletic ones,” he said.

Like his fellow ME undergraduates, Welde spends his day attending classes. But when he arrives at the practice fields in the early afternoon, his work is just beginning.

“We’ll practice and have dinner until about 8, 8:30,” he said. “Then it’s time to start my homework because obviously mechanical engineering demands the best of you.”

“Football is definitely a sacrifice, but it’s worth it,” he said.

Most recently, he completed an internship with Boeing Defense, Space, & Security in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. Supporting the production line of CH-47 Chinooks, the twin-engine helicopter used extensively by the United States Army, he got a glimpse of what his future would be like as an engineer.

He said, “It was a fantastic work environment. I’m really hoping to continue down this path, especially with Boeing.”

Now playing as a cornerback on the football team, Welde is looking forward to continued success on the field and off. “In sports, you’re always training to be the best you can be so when the time comes, you can seize the opportunity,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do with mechanical engineering.” 


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Erin Cassidy Hendrick,



With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate students, the Department of Mechanical Engineering is innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

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