October 26, 2015

Cornellians Reflect on Varied Aspects of Engineering

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Surrounded by various artifacts showcasing Cornell Engineering’s past, College of Engineering alumni and faculty spent the weekend in Duffield Hall for various events celebrating  the program.

President Elizabeth Garrett praised the University’s engineering college at a lunch on Saturday, emphasizing the importance of a good engineering program at a research university like Cornell.

“I don’t think that a great research university can continue to be great unless it has a spectacular college of engineering; not just because of what engineering does in its own orbit, but also what it means to all the other disciplines,” Garrett said.

She said she feels great pride in not only the diversity of the college’s students and faculty, but also in “diversity in the way we approach teaching,” outlining the variety of opportunities students have to grow as individuals and hone their skills.

“We also have opportunities for our students to put their knowledge to a test, in project team, in entrepreneurship programs including product design and manufacturing, including working with the Dyson School [of Applied Economics and Management] on a minor,” Garrett said.

In a Saturday talk in Statler Auditorium, Dean of the College of Engineering Lance Collins discussed the changes he has noticed since he joined the college in areas of alumni involvement, costs of education and diversity in technical fields.

“We are a believer that leadership is not a thing that you are born with, which was the old view. … Instead, our leadership program says that you have to discover the leader inside of you,” Collins said. “These are hard fought battles that originated in the minds of alums, and I am deeply appreciative of the guidance I have received.”

David Shmoys, director of the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, told The Sun he thought the sesquicentennial celebrations provided a great opportunity to look at how operations research can grow in the coming years.

“Operations research is a booming area; there is huge push to have ‘analytics’ aid a wide swath of industries, often in the tech world, but spanning such application domains as healthcare, the retail industry, the built environment and transportation in particular,” Shmoys said. “ORIE is core part of the new tech campus in NYC, and starting in the Fall 2016, we will be offering an M.Eng.”

Prof. Bruce van Dover, director of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said he thought the field plays an important role in reminding people that “everything is made of something.”

“[Department of Materials Science and Engineering] formed in response to the growing recognition that advances in all forms of materials are essential to technologies that improve the life of people and the environment,” he said.

Lois Pollack, director the Department of Applied and Engineering Physics, took the opportunity to look at the unique thinking that the department offers its students.

“We are proud to empower Cornell’s engineers — who want to build something useful — with the vision of physicists, who are pushing the limits of knowledge to explore new frontiers,” Pollack said. “We ask hard questions and try to invent new ways to answer them.”