One Engineer Helps End
Two Losing Streaks


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You try but most of the time you have to keep on trying. You analyze, you adjust, but the result is not often the optimal one. That sounds like the life of a mechanical engineer, but for Mason Freedman, a soon to be mechanical engineering graduate of the California Insititute of Technology, it’s been a good portion of his college sports career.

Going into its February game against Pacifica, his baseball team hadn’t won in 228 games.

You read right: 228.

Going into its February 2011 basketball game against Occidental, his team hadn’t seen a W in a conference game in 310 contests.

Again, no misprint: 310.

Caltech student Mason Freedman helped to end his college team’s losing streak. Image: Caltech

But Mason Freedman, as a third baseman and a shooting guard, was there when both streaks were halted and history was made. He learned from the losses and the wins.

“With engineering and with the games, you break down what you did and you try to figure out what can be improved on, what went wrong and even what you did well,” he says. “Analyzing your progress is always important, whether on the field or in the shop—without that you can’t figure out how you progress.

Lofty Goals

But it can be hard to do that when the result is still a loss. “With the losing streaks, they were going on a lot longer than I’d been here,” he says. “You realize it’s there and you can only do what you can do. If you’re in the game, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and that’s the reason to play.

And Freedman, a senior, is used to going after lofty goals with a positive attitude. He knows how competitive getting a position in space propulsion at NASA is but he’s determined. He’s already beaten out many by getting multiple internships with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Freedman says his time on sports teams has only helped him learn how to work in a professional setting. “A big part of college sports is camaraderie and teamwork,” he says. “It helps you get used to dealing with people….You learn we all need to pick each other up.”

Against All Odds

Even though the wins aren’t coming in bunches this baseball season, Freedman, who was previously written about by the Los Angeles Times, is still having a blast and was encouraged by a few in-conference series that saw him help his batting average. “You take what you can out of it,” he says.

But when Freedman is up against the odds in his career, when he’s feeling the answer may be impossible, he can always look back to a time when wins at CalTech might have seemed just as unlikely. Moments he found surreal.

And his time as a college athlete hasn’t ended just yet. Freedman still has games on the schedule to enjoy in 2013, something he’s looking forward to and that he believes has been an important element in his life, providing a balance to his difficult engineering pursuits.

Eric Butterman is an independent writer.

Analyzing your progress is always important, whether on the field or in the shop—without that you can’t figure out how you progress.

Mason Freedman, CalTech

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April 2013

by Eric Butterman, ASME.org