Rocco Ciccolini, a senior at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) who grew up in Newark and is the first member of his family to attend college, was named the Newark College of Engineering (NCE) Outstanding Senior of the Year.
NCE gives the award annually to its outstanding student. Ciccolini, a chemical engineering major, was also named NCE Outstanding Senior in that department.
“NJIT can be very proud of Rocco,” said Robert Barat, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical engineering, who supervised Ciccolini’s undergraduate research. As part of that research, Ciccolini used modern laser technology to build a device for observing and determining flow patterns.
The device was a big success, Barat said. “I gave Rocco the task of building an experimental setup,” Barat recalled, “that uses applied optics, including a laser, to probe fluid flow in pipes.” Ciccolini’s research was so insightful that since then Barat has had students in his applied optics classes perform Ciccolini’s experiment. Ciccolini also co- wrote, along with Barat, a research paper on his experiment – a paper the two will present at the June 2003 conference of the American Society of Engineering Education.
Ciccolini recently received a fellowship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where next fall he’ll pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering.
“Coming from north Newark,” Ciccolini said, “the ability to graduate with honors from NJIT and pursue a graduate degree at MIT indicates that regardless of financial background and stereotypical surroundings, the combination of hard work, dedication, and the aspiration for academic dignity opens doors to opportunities that usually seem unattainable.”
Asked how he was able to achieve so much, especially coming from humble origins, Ciccolini said, “I was able to achieve so much academically as a result of the continued support of my parents and loved ones. In addition, I felt that it was almost mandatory to complete each course with the attitude that there is no other grade available than an A.”
His will be a long journey from Newark to MIT. Ciccolini entered NJIT by way of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). The program provides educational support to academically and economically disadvantaged students. Services include counseling, tutoring and scholarship support during the student’s entire college career.
Through EOP, Ciccolini received a full scholarship to NJIT, and is expected to graduate with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average. Neither his father, a retired roofer, nor his mother, a clerk for Essex County, attended college. He graduated in 1999 form Science High School, Newark.
Ciccolini attends the Albert Dorman Honors College at NJIT; he is a member of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; vice president of Omega Chi Epsilon, the chemical engineering honors society; and a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society.
Ciccolini has also interned at Schering-Plough, Union, in both the pilot-plant operations and the chemical process technology department. For hobbies he likes motorcycling, sports and photography.
He has received several awards including the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Outstanding Senior Award; the Chemical Engineering Merit Award; the NJIT Educational Opportunity Program Highest Academic Standing Award and the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Sophomore Academic Excellence Award. He is an inductee in Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.