Immigrant Engineer Retraining Program

Through the Immigrant Engineer Retraining Program, Bnai Zion and The Cooper Union help immigrant engineers and scientists maintain self-reliance and economic independence through productive employment. The mission of our Re-Training Program is to offer participants the opportunity to update their skills and work in their chosen fields by offering them professional courses and job placement assistance. The program is free of charge.

Main External Site: http://www.bnaizion.org/retraining.php

Director: Fred Fontaine


In 1987, Bnai Zion initiated a program under its Scientists Division to help scientists and engineers who immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union to find jobs. At first, classes were given at the Bnai Zion House, but the number of students soon outgrew the space. In 1991, Bnai Zion formed a partnership with Cooper Union to run the program on a larger scale. The Cooper Union provides the courses, instructors, facilities, and equipment. Bnai Zion conducts outreach, offers students career counseling and job placement services, and workshops for English language skills. Bnai Zion also advertises the program, registers and selects students, and keeps records concerning job placement and enrollment.

Since the inception of the program, the Re-Training Program for Immigrant Engineers has taught over 3,500 students and placed approximately 1,900 of them in jobs.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.