UC November Engineer of the Month shapes college around co-op and ASCE

For Engineer of the Month of November, Jake Nicewaner (civil engineering ’19), UC’s cooperative education (co-op) program sparked a passion for construction that he never knew he had.

“I had never been in the construction field,” says Nicewaner, “but after my first co-op out in the field, I really fell in love with it, and I knew it’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

Nicewaner has spent all five of his co-op rotations with Great Lakes Construction Co., a civil construction company based out of Cleveland, Ohio. As a senior this year, Nicewaner is splitting time between working on-site with the company and taking classes.

Nicewaner looks at blueprints on construction site.

Jake Nicewaner (civil engineering '19), November Engineer of the Month.

Though many of Great Lakes’s projects are in Northeast Ohio, the company also has an office in Cincinnati. The company primarily focuses on heavy civil contractor services that include both public and private-sector projects ranging from roads and highways to bridges and tunnels. This diverse portfolio has given Nicewaner a well-rounded experience on co-op.

“I get to see buildings go up from foundation to topping out,” he says. “It’s a really rewarding feeling to see something that you built and something that will stay in place for years.”

On top of his work in the field, Nicewaner stays busy on campus. He currently serves as the UC’s student chapter president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Before that, he was integral in UC’s success in the ASCE Concrete Canoe competition. As captain of the team, he reached out to the construction industry to obtain more than $3,000, technical support and materials for the team. He also implemented innovative ideas such as virtual 3D modeling into the construction of the canoe. 

This involvement, he says, has motivated him to reach his full potential at UC.

“As I became more acclimated and more involved in extracurriculars, it pushed me to be a better engineer," he said. "It really rounded out my assets and gave me a fuller college experience.”

Engineers of the Month must demonstrate “excellence in the classroom, success in their co-op assignments and leadership through extracurricular activities on campus and/or in the community.” These students have found the balance needed to be leaders and exemplary scholars at UC.

It’s a really rewarding feeling to see something that you built and something that will stay in place for years.

Jake Nicewaner UC civil engineering student

Assistant professor Abhijeet Deshpande, PhD, knows Nicewaner through his role in advising UC’s ASCE chapter. “Jake Nicewaner is an outstanding example of leadership by an undergraduate student,” he said. “Jake’s collegiate experience so far shows how a student can utilize the opportunities provided by various student organizations in the college to develop excellent leadership skills.”

Nicewaner credits his success in the field and at UC to a strong work ethic. “Engineering degrees don’t come easy, and you have to be willing to put forth the effort to succeed,” he says. “You have to be dedicated, you have to be diligent and you have to be willing to work hard.”

For Nicewaner, all that hard work has paid off. After he graduates in May, Nicewaner will start working full time for Great Lakes Construction. In that role, he will continue expanding on his passion for construction, a passion he found at the University of Cincinnati. 

Photos and video by Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing. 

First in Co-op

Learn more about how the University of Cincinnati founded the first ever cooperative education program by visiting campus today

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