ECE Quarterback Sindelar Fuels Boilermaker Victory
In an interview before the game, Venkataramanan (Ragu) Balakrishnan, the Michael and Katherine Birck Head and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: “Elijah is the rare athlete who has been able to strike a successful balance between the extraordinary demands of ECE's top-notch curriculum and the grueling regimen of a Big Ten football program. We are proud of all that he has accomplished thus far, and look forward to watching him lead the Boilermakers to victory in the upcoming Foster Farms Bowl game,”
During the Bowl game, Sindelar threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Mahoungou with 1:44 remaining and Purdue capped its most successful season in years with a 38-35 victory over Arizona, giving the Boilermakers their first bowl win over a major conference team since beating Washington in the 2002 Sun Bowl.
Sindelar, a red shirt sophomore, took over the Boilermaker quarterback position in November when teammate David Blough was sidelined with an ankle injury. Admitting that he thrives on pressure, Sindelar was up for the challenge, bringing experience as a four-year QB at Caldwell County high school in Kentucky, where he was named the state’s Mr. Football in 2013. He was also a high school baseball and basketball star.
“I have a lot of responsibility,” Sindelar says of his Boilermaker quarterback position. “I like being in pressure situations and having the ball in my hand when it really counts. As long as I can do anything I can to help my teammates respect me, I’m going to put in the extra effort to be a leader.”
Sindelar’s teammates don’t have to look far to see why their quarterback is owed some respect. A 4.0 student in high school, he chose Purdue over the many other schools that recruited him because of Purdue’s engineering program and has ably balanced the rigors of studying electrical engineering with the demands of a Big 10 football program. With the Bowl game looming in December, the football players practiced through finals week, meeting early in the morning or late at night to accommodate test schedules; Sindelar had five finals.
“I had to learn time management at the very beginning, which is the only way I can do both football and engineering and not let one get too big or too overwhelming,” he says.
In addition to time management skills, Sindelar is also known for keeping his ego in check, having earned accolades for his humility as a high school athlete, despite his star performance. He credits his faith and family for keeping him right size. “The one thing that helps me is my faith in God. It keeps me stable, so I don’t let anything get too big,” he says.
Sindelar hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps. Scott Sindelar is an electrical engineer, who introduced his young son to the subject by enlisting his help rewiring electrical systems as they moved into houses. The interest caught on, as Sindelar says he fell in love with electricity and hopes for a career in energy and power distribution systems. He was an intern this summer with the Purdue power plant high voltage crew and plans to do the same in summer 2018.
The quarterback’s experience as an Engineering student has paid off on the football field, where Sindelar says he puts his studies to use. “Processing and the way you look at problems or come up with solutions for engineering is same way I approach problems on the football field. I discern what the defense is doing or disguising, so I know how to manipulate the defense to get my guys open,” Sindelar says. “Preparing for a game is same as preparing for an exam. If I’m prepared for the game, I know what to look for and it’s so much easier to see, just like it is to take an exam when I’m prepared.”
Mung Chiang, John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, said, "We were excited to see Elijah's performance and Purdue Football scoring the first Bowl win in 15 years. The College of Engineering is so proud of the athlete-engineers who tackle the challenges of athletic vigor and academic rigor at the same time."
More: The Kansas City Star