Written By: Kate Reilly
After three years of competing on the field of Gesling Stadium and excelling as a mechanical engineering student, junior Willie Richter has learned how to thrive as a student-athlete. Initially apprehensive of the competitive and rigorous environment at Carnegie Mellon University, Richter's ability to adapt to challenges is what has made him successful. In defeating nationally-ranked Case Western Reserve University in the Academic Bowl in November, Richter and the rest of the Tartans had a chance to exhibit this attribute.
Switching to slot receiver during preseason camp, Richter had to make a significant adjustment from his previous position as a running back. "I have played running back my entire life so I was admittedly a little nervous switching to slot receiver this year," said Richter. "After playing receiver for the bulk of camp I grew comfortable in this role. When I stepped onto the field for our first game I knew once that ball was snapped it would just be business as usual."
Plagued with significant injuries throughout the 2018 season, the Tartans struggled to record wins in the first few weeks of action beginning the season 2-3. "We had every excuse in the world to just fold the rest of the season and look to rebuild next year. Obviously, we didn't accept that and fought harder than I've ever seen a CMU team fight in a long time and pulled off a huge win against our biggest rival," said Richter. The Tartans completed the year with a 6-4 mark.
The Academic Bowl Championship gives Richter momentum as the team looks forward to the 2019 season. "The area I am most looking forward to improving is the top of my routes. I've been working closely with one of my teammates, Sunshine [junior wide receiver Zack Taylor], to improve this aspect of my game and I believe this spring will be crucial in my growth as a receiver," said Richter.
While Richter holds a strong background in mechanical engineering, he has pursued his passion for business in each of his internships. Carving a unique path among mechanical engineers at Carnegie Mellon, Richter has developed strong business and interpersonal skills. This year Richter will be interning as a management consultant at Deloitte. During his freshman year, he worked at Convey Inc., a startup in Austin, Texas, close to his hometown of Leander. Last summer, he interned in sales and internal consulting at IGS Energy in Pittsburgh.
"Once I got into college I realized it isn't engineering itself that intrigues me. It is the mindset and problem solving behind engineering that really drives me," said Richter. The junior plans to use this mentality towards his business pursuits. "I really enjoyed Entrepreneurship for Engineers. I would love to start my own company one day and I learned a lot of lessons in the class which would help me do just that," said Richter. As part of a group, Richter won the course's entrepreneurship competition claiming a prize of $300.
While football and academics are a major aspect of Richter's CMU experience, he has been most impacted by his involvement in the school's Christian campus ministries. "It keeps me grounded and focused on what's most important in life. I would not be able to be the student or athlete I am without the opportunity to get plugged into these campus ministries," said Richter. Actively involved as a leader, Richter participates in both the Tartan Athlete Fellowship and Cru, an on campus ministry at CMU and Pitt.
Reflecting on his growth throughout his experience at CMU, Richter is able to share valuable information to prospective student-athletes. "Realize that you don't have to know exactly what you want to do in life when you come into college. I thought I wanted to be an engineer, but realized late sophomore year that consulting applied much more directly to my passions. I still have so much to prove in the rest of my time here at CMU, both academically and athletically, and I encourage you to come into CMU with a similar mentality," said Richter.