SEAS in California

SEAS Interim Dean Gerald A. Navratil,  Professor Patricia Culligan, and other SEAS and University representatives traveled to California to join with alumni there in welcoming West Coast members of the Class of 2013.  The School hosted receptions at Yoshi’s in San Francisco and at Spago in Los Angeles for nearly 300 alumni and admitted early decision students who are part of the incoming first-year class.

Dean Navratil spoke about the progress of the School and shared the impressive statistics from the Admissions Office. Early decision applications were 20 percent greater than last year and regular decision applications also increased more than 20 percent, both setting new records.

Professor Culligan of the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics gave an overview on Urban Sustainability, Can We Engineer It? “By 2030, two out of three people will live in an urban environment, with most of the explosive growth occurring in developing countries,” she said. New York City is ranked fifth in population in the world’s megacities, and SEAS faculty members are working to solve the challenges of decaying infrastructure, restoring the environment, and forestalling an energy crisis.

“The amount of electricity consumed by Columbia University is comparable to that of a medium-sized town,” said Culligan. Columbia has pledged to decrease its carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2017. One way is through the green roofs projects started by Culligan, while another is aimed at reducing consumption of electricity on campus.

Alejandra Jimenez, a senior at Francis W. Parker School in San Diego, (see photo below) was among the Californians admitted to SEAS early decision. “When I received my acceptance, I was excited beyond belief,” said Alejandra, known as Alie. She  also was accepted into the scholars program. “Having such incredible opportunities is overwhelming, but very exciting.” 

Alie plans to major in computer science, which she feels will combine her love of logic and rationality with her passions for the visual and performing arts. She is on a robotics team, in theater and the performing arts, and enjoys painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, digital art, jewelry making and baking. Computer science, she says, will allow her to “create a fantasy videogame featuring characters of my own device, program innovative recording software, or realize an infinite number of other possibilities.” 

Isabelle Elias (see photo at right), a senior at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco and now a member of the SEAS Class of 2013,  was considering 10 schools, including the UC’s, Stanford, and schools known for their engineering programs. “I was attracted to Columbia SEAS because of the high percentage of female students, the Core, and New York City. Columbia SEAS was the only school that I thought would educate me as a whole person,” she said. Isabelle is on her school’s varsity swim team, is president of the astronomy club, acted in the comedy club’s annual show and led a four-day senior retreat with eight of her classmates. She also spends most Friday mornings at a local soup kitchen in a program sponsored by her school. 

Both Alie and Isabelle visited the campus and immediately knew it was where each wanted to be. “I fell in love with the campus, the atmosphere, and the city of New York during my visit,” said Isabelle.  Alie’s reaction was similar. “I was very excited to learn that all students live together, in contrast to many schools where the engineers are essentially separated,” she said. “I can’t wait for the fall term to start!”
Caption: Professor Culligan, left, Alejandra Jimenez, Class of 2013, center, and Dean Navratil at Spago’s in Los Angeles.