Thomas from Munich
is studying Process Technology (B.Sc.)
“He has the strength of two men.” Seldom has that expression fitted anyone so well as Thomas Heller. The 22‑year-old is studying process technology at Clausthal University of Technology. But not only that. He is also an elite sportsman – an American football player, to be precise. He has been hooked on that spectacular sport for five years. He is currently playing in the German Football League (GFL), the top league in the country, for Hildesheim Invaders.
TU Clausthal is a partner university for top-level sports
In Clausthal, Thomas can combine sportsmanship at the highest level with a demanding degree program. It being an official partner university for top-level sports, TU Clausthal’s professors are very understanding about the Munich-born footballer having to fit training and games into his schedule as well as his studies. “Clausthal is pleasant – not so hectic, not so big,” he says.
He started playing American football when he was still at high school, when he was with the Munich Cowboys. After graduating high school, he wanted first of all to leave Munich and stand on his own two feet outside of his hometown. “Clausthal is affordable, so it was the perfect fit.” The sports facilities in the university town and the mountainous natural landscapes round about offer the best possible opportunities to keep in shape for football. Fitness is vital, as Thomas’s position is offensive guard. “I protect the quarterback and make sure nothing happens to him,” he explains, “and I clear a path for the running back.”
On the national team
Apart from playing for Hildesheim Invaders, Thomas is involved in the national team – of Belgium. He has both German and Belgian nationality, he explains, thanks to his international parentage: “My mother is from Belgium; my father is German with Dutch roots.” The international atmosphere on the Clausthal campus therefore suits him very well.
Alongside sports, Thomas reports, he has always been interested in everything technical. “I have a soft spot for 3D printing, for instance; I’ve even got a 3D printer at home.” When he has completed his bachelor’s program in process technology – his favorite subject is device-focused plant engineering – he would like to follow it up with a master’s program in mechanical engineering or process technology. As mechanical engineering can be studied part time at TU Clausthal, which would make him more flexible, he is favoring that option for now. “Professionally, I’d like to end up doing something involving patents,” says the sports-loving student – who is often out and about on skis or his bike and keeps in shape with athletics and the gym.
The impressive team mentality of American football
For the present, the chief focus is on football. “I’m impressed with the team-centered mentality of this sport. It’s also very disciplined. When the referee makes a decision, it isn’t followed by arguments and moaning. The decision is accepted.” Other sports could take a leaf out of that book.