UW football standout Gabe Carimi applies team concept to engineering success

Posted on 22. Jun, 2011 by in Academic Departments, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Issues, Magazine, People, Students

Gabe Carimi

Gabe Carimi. Photo: UW Athletic Communications.

Wisconsin Badgers left tackle Gabe Carimi (#68) experienced nothing short of a dream senior year. Consider this stellar resume:

  • Co-captain of the Big Ten championship team that played in the Rose Bowl;
  • Big Ten Lineman of the Year and winner of the Outland Trophy recognizing the nation’s best interior lineman;
  • And days away from an NFL football career that began with a first-round draft selection to the Chicago Bears.

Anything else?

In fact, a quieter success story played out only about two football field lengths away from Camp Randall, near the UW-Madison engineering campus. Carimi was a graduating senior in civil and environmental engineering who was named to the Academic All-Big Ten for four straight years.

At 6 feet, 8 inches, and 320 pounds, Carimi had no trouble getting noticed on the field. But Professor Jeff Russell, chair of civil and environmental engineering and Carimi’s faculty advisor, says the off-the-field student athlete story is equally remarkable. “Author Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, talks about someone he calls a level-five leader,” says Russell. “That type of leader has personal humility but also has really strong professional will. I think Gabe has the elements of both those qualities.”

Combining football responsibilities with a challenging degree program like civil engineering can be compared to having two full-time jobs, says Russell. Carimi, a Madison native who attended Monona Grove High School, chose engineering due to his lifelong interest in construction and development.

Without hesitation, he credits his academic motivation to his mother. “She would be dispppointed if I didn’t make the all-academic list,” says Carimi. “She told me that was what she is most proud of, so I made sure I got after it every year.”

Carimi is very committed to his family and his Jewish faith. His mother has been to every one of his games since middle school and his father, a Janesville-area physician, has been to every college game and most high school games. Carimi roomed in Madison with his sister, a 2009 UW-Madison graduate and member of the women’s crew team.
Volunteerism also is important to Carimi. In seventh grade, he helped build a house for Habitat for Humanity as his Bar Mitzvah project.  He has done two college internships with the north Madison firm Ruedebusch Development and Construction and has donated his hair to the charity Locks of Love.

For Carimi, his college degree signals both an end and a beginning, says Russell. “When you put all the pieces together with Gabe—as a leader, with his commitment to his family and faith and volunteering—these all play into a person who’s going to be a game-changer and make a difference in the world,” he says.

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