5 questions with…national champion rower Patrick DelBarba

It’s only a few weeks into break, and rising sophomore Patrick DelBarba may already have achieved the highlight of his summer: The standout rower was just crowned the national champion at the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships. Held May 26-27 in Gainesville, Ga., the ACRA championships are the national championships for club crew programs. During the grand final race, DelBarba bested scullers from universities such as Virginia Commonwealth, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

A native of Pittsburgh, DelBarba started rowing with the Three Rivers Rowing Association at the age of 16 and joined the Case Crew team upon arrival to the university last fall. Throughout the season, he’s taken home top honors at races such as the MACRA Regatta and the Hammer Ergatta.

But outside the boat, DelBarba, a computer science major, said he spends much of his time building things—both physically and virtually. When he returns to Case Western Reserve University this fall, he intends to take full advantage of the Think[Box] program, an initiative to encourage creativity, invention and commercialization of technology. And, of course, log plenty of long hours both in and out of the water to ready himself for next crew season.

1. What superpower would you most like to have?
I think I can answer this one with another question: Have you seen The Matrix? Essentially omnipotence but with much better action scenes. If I can’t have that, a close second would be to have Magneto’s power of controlling magnetic fields.

2. What’s your favorite place to dine in Cleveland?
Probably Mama Santa’s. I used to live in Cleveland before I moved to Pittsburgh and used to eat there for as long as I can remember.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a while I wanted to be a pilot, but my sixth grade math teacher introduced me to computer science and I’ve wanted to do that ever since.

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of—personally and professionally?
Personally I am most proud of my accomplishments in rowing. As a team, our results this spring have been outstanding and I hope that this continues in the coming years.

As a freshman, professionally I have to reach back to high school when I worked at Carnegie Mellon University as a teaching assistant for the Andrew’s Leap program. Each summer, my fellow TAs and I would get to teach a group of gifted high school students about a range of computer science topics. Over the four years that I worked there the groups that came out became increasingly capable, which made all of us feel great.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
If I had to pick something it would probably be the student culture and mentality. Within the team, our new recruits never fail to impress with their determination to improve, even though most have never rowed before. Additionally, I spend a fair amount of time with the Hacker Society student group. These students seem to be able to figure anything out and are always willing to help out the new guys. I have probably learned close to as much from their talks as I have from the computer science classes.