SEAS Kicks Off Yearlong 150th Celebration

Jan 24 2014 | Photo: Michael Dames

The School has just launched its yearlong 150th birthday party with a full week of activities that are engaging students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

Dean Mary C. Boyce officially kicked off the sesquicentennial on Feb. 16 with a light display illuminating Low Library.

On Sunday night, February 16, the Engineering Student Council (ESC) and Engineering Graduate Student Council held a dinner for more than 400 in a packed Roone Arledge Auditorium. ESC President Siddhant Bhatt ’14 welcomed everyone and introduced Dean Mary C. Boyce, who gave a presentation on the exciting research that’s come out of the School over the past 150 years and screened a video to mark the sesquicentennial. Columbia Engineering Young Alumni President Whitney Green BS’10, noted that “if you take a good look at our past and current research achievements in the global issues of mechanical developments, computing, robotics, agriculture, health, smart cities, energy, the environment, data science, and more, you’ll see just how far we students, faculty, and alumni can reach and the amazing impact we’ve had on the world. Now, imagine what we will do for society in the next 150 years!”

After the dinner, students went out to view the beautiful 150th light display illuminating Low Library for the rest of the week.

"This was a great night,” says Bhatt. “We should all take a moment this week to look at the decorated Low Library and see Columbia Engineering under the spotlight, and remember what we are all a part of. We are important members of this community and let’s celebrate that!”

Several other events are scheduled this week—which is National Engineers Week (an annual event now known as DiscoverE Week)—including the Archimedes Society Dinner and a talk by Robert McCaughey, professor of history at Barnard College and author of the forthcoming book, A Lever Long Enough: A History of Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science Since 1864; and a SEAS networking event on Wednesday, February 19, for students and alumni, co-hosted by the Center for Career Education and Society of Women Engineers. (To see photos from Columbia's DiscoverE Week events, visit the Engineering Student Council's Facebook page.)

On Monday, February 24, the School is hosting Engineering Icons: A Conversation with Mike Massimino BS’84, an evening open to the Columbia community that features a screening of the documentary, Hubble 3D, at Lincoln Square IMAX and a conversation with Dean Boyce and Massimino. Massimino, currently a visiting professor in the mechanical engineering department, was the NASA astronaut charged with fixing the Hubble space telescope and is featured in the film. To attend the screening, please register here.

Throughout the year, the School will host more than 30 events for faculty, students, and alumni, all with a sesquicentennial theme. These include the Columbia Engineering Young Alumni Blue and White Gala on March 29; Reunion Weekend, from May 29 through May 31; the International Parents Dinner in August, Homecoming in October, and many more.

On May 8, the School will hold a special Senior Design Day Expo to showcase innovative design projects by seniors. This event, which will take place in Roone Arledge Auditorium, will provide an opportunity for the larger Columbia community to celebrate the creative and innovative work of the School’s students.

Two major highlights of the anniversary year are planned for November. The first is “SEAS 150 Symposium,” which will be held on the afternoon of Friday, November 14. The symposium will feature presentations in a mini-TEDx format given by faculty and graduate students that directly link the research that took place early in the School’s history to research now being performed by current faculty.

To cap the anniversary year, the School will host a Founders Day Gala on the evening of Saturday, November 15, in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The Gala will include a cocktail reception and dinner, with remarks by Dean Boyce and additional speakers, as well as a video of the School’s history and milestones. This date marks the exact day in 1864 when the School first opened its doors, with 20 students and 3 teachers. In the ensuing 150 years, Columbia Engineering has grown to accommodate more than 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students and 175 faculty members.