Tech Professor Recalls His Experience Playing for U.S. National Soccer Squad

As soccer fans across the globe tune in to the World Cup, a distinguished faculty member at Georgia Tech will be monitoring the games with particular interest.

Ben Zinn
Click image to enlarge

Distinguished Aerospace Engineering Professor Ben Zinn has the distinction of being the longest serving faculty member at Georgia Tech.

Fifty-one years ago, Regents' Professor Ben Zinn was a member of the United States national team, playing an exhibition match against England at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, California. The date: May 28, 1959.

“I was a New York University undergraduate playing when the sport was much more unorganized than it is today,” Zinn said. In fact, the U.S. team was cobbled together with players from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and St. Louis, playing together for the first time.

Although the U.S. team lost the game 8-1, Zinn considers the encounter a moral victory since he and his team members were able to hold England 1-1 until halftime.

Zinn, who was known at that time as Ben Cinowitz, attended college on a soccer scholarship and had opportunities to extend his athletic career though invitations to join the Israeli national team and later the Atlanta Chiefs. He instead decided to continue his academic route, earning his doctoral and master’s degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University and another master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.

Zinn started his career at Georgia Tech in 1965 as an assistant professor and has the distinction of being the longest serving faculty member at the Institute. In 2006, the combustion laboratory was named in his honor.

While Zinn will miss the opening game of the World Cup since he’ll be on his way to an international academic conference in Scotland, he wanted to emphasize one point: “I graduated number one in my class at New York University. You can be a good athlete and an accomplished academician.”