Comeback kid

A concussion slowed but didn’t stop Michael Devereaux’s pursuit of an engineering degree

 The hit that changed the course of college came in the fourth game of the 2016 season. Michael Devereaux, a safety for the Spartan football team, raced downfield on the kickoff. As he made the tackle head on, another helmet hit him from the side. 

He knew something was wrong. He did not know how wrong. After suffering a concussion on the football field in high school, “I was back in a week.” 

Not this time. The impact of the second sports-related concussion lingered, affecting him physically and mentally for months. Football was over. So, for a time, was school. Devereaux, a mechanical engineering major, ended up dropping out of classes and losing an entire semester. 

“I couldn’t concentrate,” he said. “I was wearing sunglasses, ear plugs” to avoid neurological sensations. “I was basically bed-ridden for three months.” 

Today, he’s back on track, achieving high grades as he works toward a degree from the Case School of Engineering. A recent co-op with an advanced manufacturer revealed innate engineering skills. A scholarship from the Case Alumni Association gave him the boost he needed to regroup. 

Because of his injury, Devereaux suddenly faced paying for an additional semester of school without the help of his university scholarship. A Junior Senior Scholarship committee elected to help him pay for his senior year next year, putting an emerging goal in reach. 

“The scholarship is going to be very, very helpful,” Devereaux said.   

The native of Litchfield, New Hampshire, came to CWRU to play football. He still loves the game, and relished the opportunity to help the team last season as a defensive backs coach. But engineering is the rising star on his horizon. 

His high school physics teacher had suggested he study mechanical engineering, noting his performance in math and science. His father, a software engineer, endorsed the idea. Then the Case experience pulled him in. 

This past fall, Devereaux worked a co-op at Precision Castparts Corp.’s plant in Wickliffe. At the maker of aerospace parts, he worked directly under a process engineer doing quantitative analysis, applying geometry to design new quality improvement processes.

 He loved it. 

“When I left them, they ended up using the process I recommended, so that was cool,” he said. “I really, really enjoyed the co-op.” 

Back on campus, he enrolled in more manufacturing courses. He sees his future in the manufacturing economies of the Midwest.

 “Just taking these opportunities, and seeing what an engineer does, was really interesting to me,” he said. “I like solving problems. I’ve always been that way.” 

He’ll always be a football fan, he said. But at Case, “I learned how to think like an engineer.” 

To support students like Michael Devereaux, go to The Case Fund