WATCH: Florida Tech’s Scholar-Athlete Spotlight Recognizes Rower Gennaro Zappariello

By  //  November 3, 2021

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Zappariello majoring in mechanical engineering

ABOVE VIDEO: Scholar-Athlete Spotlight Ep. 8: Gennaro Zappariello

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Being a scholar-athlete at Florida Tech takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to excel both in the classroom and in competition.

In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, we feature Panther men’s rower Gennaro Zappariello, a senior out of Minotola, New Jersey, who is majoring in mechanical engineering.

Zappariello has been named the Outstanding Student of the Year each of the past two years for his major.

As a school with an engineering reputation, everyone has a story about why they got into the field, what they want to do next and what they’re doing now to get there.

■ What’s your major at Florida Tech and why did you choose this? Is it something that you’ve always wanted to be a part of?
So, I’m a mechanical engineer but when I came to Florida Tech, I originally came in as an aerospace engineer. I then realized I did not like planes and rockets as much as I did. So, I switched to mechanical engineering.

■ What made you switch to mechanical engineering as a major?
A mechanical engineering degree here gives you a very broad range of all engineering aspects and that’s something I really appreciate.

As I said, I switched and it’s because I really don’t know yet exactly what I want to do, and having that mechanical engineering degree background kind of gives you a broad range of stuff. I can use that in any field that I want to pick as it is right now.

■ How do you plan to use your degree after graduation?
I’m currently scheduled to work in a local Department of Defense company here in Melbourne. But a dream of mine would be to work at Lego.

■ What are some of the exciting projects that you’ve been able to work on in classes here?
So currently, I’m the project lead for my senior design project and we’re working with the U.S. Navy. So this process has been really eye-opening.

It’s really awesome to go through the whole developmental process, and next semester we’re going to build our design and it’s going to be pretty cool. I’m hoping it actually works.

■ What’s an average day of classes like for you?
Yeah, so it’s a busy day, obviously. With rowing, I’m up early in the morning and then classes fill up much of the rest of my day. I’m also a tour guide on campus.

So, in between classes and getting lunch, I’m giving tours to prospective students and helping them decide if Florida Tech is the school for them.

If you guys have checked it out, I am actually one of the tour guides for Florida Tech on Amazon Prime’s “The College Tour” series.

So, I had the opportunity to highlight the athletic experience here at Florida Tech. I really enjoyed that process, obviously got a little TV fame on the side, and it was really cool.

**Watch Amazon Prime’s “The College Tour” feature on Florida Tech as well as Gennaro’s segment in the links above story**

■ So how do you manage your job, your studies, and everything else once you’re in season?
Yeah, so it is a lot and it’s definitely a time management problem, but I would say that adding more to your plate is definitely beneficial.

By doing that, you have a rigorous schedule but it’s all structured.

So, I know exactly when I have to do things. I know exactly when I have to practice, I know exactly when I have to go to class, I know exactly when I have to eat, I know exactly when I can do my homework.

So, it keeps me very organized. I don’t procrastinate very often, although that happens sometimes but yeah, having a full plate definitely helps me.

■ How has being a collegiate athlete prepared you for what you’re doing now and what do you take from rowing that you apply to your studies?
Yeah, so with rowing, there’s a lot of grit and determination, and that kind of translates over to the academic side.

In rowing, there’s competition and in the classroom, there’s also competition, not necessarily with the other students but with myself. (Florida Tech image)

In rowing, there’s competition and in the classroom, there’s also competition, not necessarily with the other students but with myself.

I set pretty high standards for myself. So, meeting those and kind of taking what I’ve learned from rowing and applying it to my studies has really helped me excel as a student-athlete.

■ What advice would you give to an athlete coming here that also wants to get into mechanical engineering?
I would say drop all your expectations.

When I came here to Florida Tech, I came in with an open mind and kind of disregarded everything that I’ve learned in high school and wanted to start a new slate, just absorbing all the information both in rowing and in the classroom.

That’s really helped me excel as a student-athlete here.

■ Your team was at the Head of the Charles Regatta last week. How was that experience and what do you feel your expectations are for the rest of the season going forward?
The guys who went and competed at the Head of the Charles did really well. They got sixth, top four out of the colleges.

We’ve got the Head of the South coming up in two weeks, so I’m really excited about that. That’s going to cap off the fall season and hopefully, we can leave a good mark there and swing it over to spring.

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