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Engineering student makes time for athletics

January 13, 2023

Giancarlo wearing sunglasses sits in his rowing shell ready to stroke on a lake with course markers

Some people believe that disciplines such as engineering and computer science are too demanding to leave any time for extra-cirricular activities.

But many students in UVic's Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science are proving that this is a misconception. For example, hundreds of students take part in the faculty's amazing clubs and teams, while many others participate in athletics and recreation, whether through UVic Vikes or at locations in the wider community.

We chatted with Giancarlo DiPompeo, a second-year student in mechanical engineering, who is also an elite competitive rower.

What is your hometown?

My hometown is Thorold Ontario and my home club is the St. Catharines rowing club.

How and when did you get into competitive rowing?

I started in grade 9 through my high school program. I had always been very active and involved in various sports and rowing was suggested to me so I figured I’d give it a try. I had heard that the rowing team works out hard and was intense so if anything it would help me get into better shape in general. I took a liking to the sport and continued with it but it’s wasn’t until the end of grade 10 that I began to take things more seriously. My coaches told me that if I continued as I had been that I could go far in the sport. That summer I joined the St.Catharines Rowing Club summer program and decided to step back from other sports to focus on rowing. Two years later I found myself competing at the junior world championships for team Canada and soon after arrived at UVic to compete as a Vike.

What have been some of your highlights in rowing along the way?

  • Competing at the Junior World Championships for team Canada in 2021
  • Winning the Lightweight double and four at the 2021 Canadian University Rowing Championships and being part of the Vikes National Championship-winning Crew 2021
  • Competing at Head of the Charles with the Vikes in the lightweight 4

How did rowing figure into your choice of a university?

Rowing was a big factor when it came to choosing a university. I knew it was something that I wanted to do and I felt that it had to be part of my university journey. I knew that it would be difficult with engineering but that wasn't going to stop me. The UVic rowing program has an amazing culture and great coaching.

What led you to choose engineering as your field of study?

It was a very natural choice for me, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I have wanted to pursue engineering from very early on. Maths, sciences, and how the world works have always drawn my curiosity.

Has it been difficult to balance your studies in engineering with the time required of rowing? How have you accomplished this?

Balancing my studies and rowing is definitely challenging, sometimes more than others, but the challenge is what I love about it. Both disciplines are very demanding but they can coincide.

I have accomplished this by learning to manage my time as best as I can and doing my best to ensure the two do not interfere. Keeping to a routine is very important as well as preparation, whether that be preparing the night before for the next day or sorting out academics weeks in advance of travel for races. Some points in the semester are busier than others and sometimes the only option is to embrace the grind.

One of the most important things that help me accomplish this is reminding myself of the goals that I have set for myself and remembering to take some time to do something fun every now and then.

There’s a sense among many people that engineering is such a tough discipline that there isn’t time for outside pursuits. What are your thoughts about this?

Engineering is a tough discipline and the thought of adding other commitments can be daunting but it is absolutely possible. I find that having another aspect of my life and daily pursuit helps me to excel in my studies and sports. Being busy helps me to have a structure to each day and be efficient with my time and focus only on the things that are important. Rowing is a place where I can push myself to achieve goals that are separate from school, I am able to take my mind off of academics for a few moments each day.

Yes, it is challenging but also an opportunity to challenge yourself. I find that being involved in sport or extracurricular activities allows for learning to occur in different environments, from different perspectives, experiences, and groups of people. Lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom.

Do you know many other students in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science who are also doing sports?

There are actually a couple of other rowers on the men's and women's teams who are pursuing engineering and many alumni of the program have also achieved a degree in engineering.

Any advice you’d give a student considering Engineering/Computer Science?

It’s worth it!

Do you have any idea yet where you hope your degree will take you? Or what kind of impact on the world you hope to make through your future work?

At the moment I hope that my degree in mechanical engineering will take me into the aerospace industry.

Do you expect to continue in rowing or other sports?

I will absolutely be continuing in rowing throughout my time in university and possibly after. I aspire to be on the national team and represent Canada on the world stage.