All Smiles at New Student Welcome

Aug 26 2014 | By Melanie A. Farmer

Marking the official start to the academic year, the Class of 2018 posed for a group selfie with Dean Mary C. Boyce at the School’s annual Academic Assembly. The program, held in Low Rotunda August 26, served as an official welcome to the new class of incoming freshmen, and an introduction to their exciting year ahead.


Dean Boyce and the Class of 2018 posed for a group selfie.

In her remarks, Dean Boyce talked about the School’s incredible faculty and students and touched on how the Engineering School is pushing the boundaries on many disciplinary frontiers and translating innovation to real solutions in today’s world. She emphasized that engineering is at its most crucial moment, affecting all parts of society at large.

“I am so pleased to have such a talented group of students choose an engineering education as their foundation,” said Boyce to an audience of approximately 300 new students. “As you each have come to realize, engineering is critical to our world’s future. The impact that each of us can have by bringing engineering solutions to the many key global challenges facing the world today has never been more important.”

Professors Chris Wiggins and Elizabeth Hillman shared their stories about how they became engineers and ultimately chose their research fields of data science and neuroscience, respectively. Alumna Samantha John BS’09, founder of Hopscotch, an iPad app that teaches kids how to code, offered this piece of advice to the new students—follow your passion. Student speaker Andelyn Russell, a junior majoring in operations research, shared her personal journey to SEAS and her goal to pursue a career in humanitarian logistics, combining her interests in engineering and global exchange.

John, who at first wanted to be a doctor, switched her focus senior year to computer programming, something she did in her spare time. “I realized that the stuff I was doing on the side was what I was really passionate about,” she said about working with computers instead. “Keep an open mind,” she told the Class of 2018, and “take advantage of all the resources Columbia has to offer. Don’t worry so much about following a straight and narrow path.”

As a tradition, members of the Class of 2018 also received a commemorative beanie to mark their entry into the Columbia Engineering community. Once a mandatory accessory at Columbia, the beanie is now a souvenir for incoming freshmen. This year’s is slightly more special as it displays the School’s 150th logo in honor of its sesquicentennial.