Celebrating Our Retiring Faculty

Columbia Engineering honors longtime faculty, Professors Peter K. Allen, Emanuel Derman, Irving P. Herman, Richard W. Longman, Ponisseril Somasundaran, and Y. Lawrence Yao

Jun 26 2024 | Photo credit: Barbara Alper

Columbia Engineering hosted a celebratory dinner on May 2 at Riverside Church to honor six esteemed professors who have recently retired. The event, led by Dean Shih-Fu Chang, was a tribute to the outstanding contributions and lasting impact these faculty members have made in academia, research, and student mentorship.

In opening remarks, Dean Chang said, "The faculty we are honoring here tonight represent a real ‘Who’s Who’ of academia and research….They’ve also gone above and beyond for their students–mentoring, advising, and guiding students on their path as engineers and applied scientists, industry leaders, and innovators."

The evening proceeded with a formal dinner and individual tributes to each retiring professor, highlighting their remarkable careers and achievements:

Peter K. Allen

Professor Emeritus of Computer Science

Peter K. Allen is renowned for his pioneering work in robotics and computer vision. His innovative research has advanced the field significantly, contributing to the development of autonomous systems and enhancing our understanding of machine perception--how robots can see and understand their surroundings. 

Emanuel Derman ’73GSAS

Professor Emeritus of Professional Practice in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

Emanuel Derman's work in financial engineering and quantitative finance has been groundbreaking. Known for his development of the Black-Derman-Toy model, Derman has significantly influenced the way financial derivatives are understood and applied. His dedication to teaching and mentoring has inspired a generation of engineers and financial analysts.

Irving P. Herman

Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor Emeritus of Applied Physics

Irving P. Herman's contributions to applied physics, particularly in the field of laser physics and nanotechnology, have been substantial. His research has led to numerous advancements in materials science and engineering. 

Richard W. Longman

Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Richard W. Longman is celebrated for his extensive research in control theory and space robotics. His work has provided critical insights into the dynamics and control of mechanical systems, influencing both academic research and practical applications. Longman has been a dedicated educator, guiding many students through complex engineering challenges.

Ponisseril Somasundaran

Lavon Duddleson Krumb Professor of Mineral Engineering in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering

Ponisseril Somasundaran's expertise in mineral engineering and surface chemistry has led to significant advancements in environmental engineering and sustainable practices. His research has addressed critical issues in resource management and environmental preservation. Somasundaran's mentorship has nurtured many young engineers, fostering a commitment to sustainability.

Y. Lawrence Yao

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Y. Lawrence Yao is known for his contributions to manufacturing and laser-material interactions. His research has led to the development of new manufacturing techniques and improved industrial processes. Yao's dedication to teaching and his ability to inspire innovation have profoundly impacted his students and colleagues.

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