Celebrating the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022

Congratulations to our graduates!

On Monday, May 16, the Columbia Engineering Class of 2022 gathered on the South Lawn of Columbia’s campus to celebrate Class Day.

Keynote speaker Sunita Williams addressed the students and shared her journey to becoming a NASA astronaut at a time when it was rare for navy pilots, and especially women, to become astronauts. She challenged students to take a cue from marathon runners and “get to the starting line.”

“I could have quit there and never tried, but, like a marathon, you do everything you need to do and make it to the starting line,” she said. “I realized that the notion that helo [helicopter] pilots weren’t astronauts, was the barrier in my head that I needed to erase. I just had to do everything I needed to do to make myself competitive for the job, and then put my application in—I got to the starting line and then the race would be the race.”

Shih-Fu Chang, recently named the new dean of Columbia Engineering, joked that like the students, he was also preparing for a new chapter and encouraged students to adopt a “Day One Mindset”: “It’s a mindset the embraces new opportunities and thinks like a beginner, bringing our knowledge and experience—but with a fresh and open perspective, ready to keep growing and keep learning.”

Students were also addressed by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Senior Class President Estevan Mesa, Valedictorian Ahmet Cem Karadeniz, and graduate student speakers Katrina Li and Sai Mali Ananthanarayanan.

On Wednesday, May 18, students gathered for the University Commencement ceremony. President Bollinger expressed faith in the graduates’ ability to change the future for the better.

Columbia Engineering graduates from the Class of 2020 and 2021 held their ceremony on Thursday, May 19. The graduates, whose original ceremonies had been remote due to Covid-19, were addressed by President Bollinger at a morning ceremony, then attended a special Class Day ceremony in the afternoon. The event featured alumni speakers Olubunmi Fariyike BS’20, now a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford, and Jeremy Yao MS’20, creator of an app to help consumers make more sustainable fashion choices. Dean Shih-Fu Chang and Provost Mary C. Boyce also spoke to the crowd. Provost Boyce, who was the former dean of the engineering school, stressed how the creativity of engineers could help bring practical, real-world solutions to the challenges facing society.

Highlights from the ceremonies

View the full album of Class Day photos here.

View the full album of Commencement photos here.

View the full album of Classes of 2020 and 2021 Celebration photos here.

Student Spotlights

Student Award Winners

Valedictorian and Illig Prize
Ahmet Cem Karadeniz

Maya Venkatraman

Campbell Award
Sai Mali Ananthanarayanan

George Vincent Wendell Memorial Medal
Alexander Yu-sing Liebeskind

Morton B. Friedman Memorial Prize for Excellence
Kaveri Anil Thakoor

Graduate Student Life Leadership Awards
Xun Wang
Kristen Lawlor

Faculty Award Winners

Presidential Teaching Award
Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy

Faculty Service Award
Christine P. Hendon

Edward and Carole Kim Award for Faculty Involvement
Kyle Bishop

Janette and Armen Avanessians Diversity Award
Gil Zussman

CEAA Distinguished Faculty Teaching Awards
Kui Ren 
Allie Obermeyer

Alumni Award Winners

Columbia Alumni Medalist
Vijay B. Samant