Each year, the NJIT Newark College of Engineering (NCE) gives the Innovation in Design Award to an engineering student who excels as a designer. This year, Giancarlo Fricano, of Bridgewater, a senior whose design skills twice helped the NJIT Steel Bridge Team capture first place in regional competitions, received it.
Under Fricano’s leadership, the NJIT Steel Bridge Team won first place in the 2010 Steel Bridge Regional Competition. It also won first place in every individual scoring category, including structural efficiency, construction economy as well as stiffness and aesthetics. The team will compete in the upcoming Steel Bridge National Contest at Purdue University.
(ATTENTION EDITORS: Fricano is available for interviews by telephone or in person. Photos are available. Please call Sheryl Weinstein for details at 973-596-3436.)
Fricano also led the 2009 Steel Bridge Team to victory in that year’s regional bridge contest. As chief designer, he devised several designs for the bridge and tested each with rigorous calculations. After several months, he chose a three-dimensional design for a winning bridge whose innovative joints resisted stress forces. Professors say it was the best bridge design they’ve ever seen from a student, and they praised his hard work and diligence.
Fricano, however, was not always a diligent student. By his own admission, his first year and a half at NJIT was undistinguished. His grades were poor, he didn’t like his classes, and he was always anxious. He was “depressed and fed up with NJIT,” he recalls.
But once he joined the Steel Bridge team, his spirits lifted. “Once I got involved with the steel bridge,” says Fricano, “I started to make more friends and that really turned my attitude around. I began to do better in my classes and started to enjoy being at NJIT.”
He says he then began “making the best of every experience.” He had a double major, Civil Engineering and Surveying Engineering Technology, and started to excel in both of them. It was in 2008 that the Steel Bridge Team, seeing Fricano’s design talents, first elected him chief designer and co-captain of the team. And after that he started to soar academically and socially.
“Because I was able to get through the bad time and the tough classes,” says Fricano, “I developed a never-say-die attitude. I thought I could solve any problem and learn from every experience. I think I matured and became a better person.”
Fricano, who is graduating in May, already has a good job lined up. In the summer, he’ll start work as an entry-level engineer at Schiavone Construction Company. He’ll work in the field with the construction crew and the estimation team. But he’ll also work with the company’s design staff -- his specialty.
“I’m ending my adventure at NJIT and this job will be the next adventure of my life,” says Fricano. “I learned so much at school about engineering and surveying. But just as importantly, I learned about myself and what makes me a better person. The first year and a half was rough, but I’d do it all over again. The rough times paved the way for the happy times.”