Featured Student Profiles

Back when she was choosing among top engineering programs, Pendo Abbo '19 had one main criterion: someplace that wouldn't "put her academic experience in a box."

Vikas Arun '17, a professional tap dancer studying operations research and computer science at Columbia Engineering, is all about efficiency--of movement on the dance floor, in the ways organizations can work smarter, and in how data can help direct ambitious projects.

Being a PhD candidate in plasma physics, one might expect to find Alex Battey in San Diego, where he regularly conducts experiments with the renowned DIII-D tokamak. But addressing the famous San Diego Comic-Con?

For electrochemical engineer Sarah Berlinger, who comes from a family of artists, developing renewable energy alternatives is the ultimate creative expression. Climate change has placed humanity at a "pivotal point," she says, and engineers innovating better, safer, and more efficient ways to power the world are making an incalculable impact.

The key to sustaining sustainability is making eco-friendly options cheaper and better than less conscious alternatives, believes chemical engineer and environmentalist Amar Bhardwaj '20.

For Angela (Xi) Cao MS'17, data is power: the power to invest more fruitfully, to run businesses more strategically, and to figure out what customers want even before they do.

As for how to best utilize it, that takes creativity.

For Jahrane Dale, who has always loved building things, Columbia was his first and only choice. He wanted to ground his STEM endeavors "in a human context," he says, with the arts and humanities helping round out his approach.

Electrical engineer, computer scientist, and roboticist Julia Di '18 shoots for the stars--literally.

As a Columbia College first-year eying a career in medicine, Mounir Ennenbach '16SEAS found himself outraged by a leaky showerhead in his residence hall. After it dripped for several days to general indifference, just submitting a maintenance request wasn't enough: he measured how long it took to fill a plastic water bottle, and calculated that the single plumbing fixture was wasting more water every day, 35 gallons, than the per capita daily consumption of the nation of Jordan, where he'd grown up.

When Drew Feldman '17 first became interested in applied physics, he had no inkling that it might propel him toward a career in children's film and television. The Egleston scholar from Port Washington, New York, came to Columbia to study engineering while also nurturing his interests in literature and philosophy. But working with Associate Professor of Computer Science Eitan Grinspun, co-director of the Columbia Computer Graphics Group, opened up a whole new world of creative problem-solving.

Growing up in Beirut, long before she knew she wanted to be a chemical engineer, Noor Freiha '16SEAS already dreamed of coming to Columbia. Her father had attended the Journalism School, and spoke glowingly of life and learning in Morningside Heights. Displaced by war at age 11, she abruptly relocated to London and later Dubai, soaking up diverse cultures and beginning to think a lot about how to help solve world problems. Then, reaching Columbia at last for a high school summer program, she studied engineering, working to convert shipping containers to emergency disaster relief shelters, and discovered her calling.