Curt Tomasevicz, ’03 BS ELEC and ’06 MS ELEC, was brakeman for the gold medal-winning four-man "Night Train" entry with the U.S. Bobsled Team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. He returned to Nebraska this spring and visited his hometown of Shelby, Neb., as well as dozens of area schools, to share his message of appreciation and encouragement. Tomasevicz graciously gave this interview to Engineering@Nebraska:
E@N: How did you choose electrical engineering as a field of study?
CT: I worked for an electrician in high school and really liked it. I always enjoyed math and physics. Also, I had fantastic math teachers; it was a small school, so I had those teachers all four years of high school.
E@N: Was your training something to "engineer"? Are there qualities required for engineering that serve you as an Olympic athlete—or was your Husker football background a stronger influence?
CT: I had played football in high school. In Lincoln, I began as a "regular" student, and started football after completing my first semester. My routine at UNL was studying engineering and competing in athletics. Every day I did those two things—I had to balance those demands. In engineering, there were definitely some courses I had to spend hours on! Now, training has taken up more of my time, but I still like engineering for problem- solving. I don’t have much time for equations these days, but engineering is great because there’s always a right and wrong answer. That also applies to ways for making the Olympic team.
E@N: Your UNL adviser was Sohrab Asgarpoor; do you recall any "gold medal" days at Nebraska Engineering?
CT: In grad school, I remember working on my MATLABS, doing a lot of code writing. I wrote a program to determine optimal location for distributed generation on a power grid. That was a big achievement when I completed that—it felt really good!
E@N: Does your technical expertise from engineering help you in bobsled training and/or competition? If so, how? Did you have input to the sled design/construction?
CT: Zero correlation!
E@N: How can people support you and the team to greater accomplishments?
CT: Preparing financially was the hardest part about getting ready for the Olympics; sponsors are important. The state of Nebraska has been very supportive.
E@N: What message do you have for engineering students starting out at the college or in their careers?
CT: Coming up through with the path I’ve had, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is developing the discipline to get the work done and also relax, to find balance and not get overly stressed about things. As a student and athlete, I had to find a way that, after five hours practice most days, I could do the homework that night.
E@N: What do you see ahead for your future, and will engineering be part of it?
CT: I just put a downpayment on a house, a quadplex in Colorado Springs, so I’m excited about that and hope to spend time there. I will start training for Sochi (site of the Winter Olympic Games in 2014), and I’d like to learn to be a driver with the team. I’ll see what’s possible—it comes back to balance, making sure I’m willing to make the sacrifices involved. For a career, I’d definitely like to use my degrees. With more emphasis on alternative energy resources, the job outlook is good.
E@N: Anything else to add?
CT: Dr. Asgarpoor was great at helping me while I was a grad student. I took time off for the bobsledding team and came back. He worked with me to set some independent study plans while I was away from campus. He was very supportive, and I appreciated that.