Incoming 2019 Pt. Two

POSTED ON: August 25, 2019

Every year we ask a few of the newest Cooper Union students to give us a bit of background about themselves: where they are from, why they pursue art, architecture or engineering, why they chose to do so at The Cooper Union, and what they were up to during the summer. In part two of the 2019 Incoming edition, meet Julia Penchaszadeh Robert, Frederick Choi, Amanda Blanca. [See part one and part three of this three-part series.]

Julia Penchaszadeh RobertJulia Penchaszadeh Robert
Buffalo, NY via Buenos Aires, Argentina & Madison, WI

I have been very fortunate to have grown up enjoying many different experiences, traveling, playing music, hiking, et cetera, and through these different lenses, I have come to understand the importance of our immediate surroundings, whether that be a natural or built environment, towards shaping our experiences and our ways of thinking. I was drawn to the idea of being able to manipulate people’s experiences and human interaction through architecture, along with simply loving the idea of using creativity in an impactful way. 

What most excited me about The Cooper Union is the location and the small community that has been created in such an extensive city. I thrive in smaller learning environments and Cooper offered me just that. The Architecture program also centers around design and has a focus on sustainability, two things that I find both exciting to learn more about and extremely important to the field of architecture. 

I am most enthusiastic to learn! I have been craving a focused path of study and am very excited to get to learn and put energy into a field of study that I find intriguing and exciting while meeting people that will impact my life for years to come.

I started off this summer interning with some architect family friends who introduced me to their current work and taught me basic functions in Rhino as a result. I then traveled to Argentina to visit family. Currently, I am working at a family camp in the Adirondacks. I’ve been enjoying the mountains and spending a lot of time in touch with the nature in this region.

Frederick ChoiFrederick Choi
River Vale, NJ via Silver Springs, MD & South Korea

Growing up I was always engaged in making something. From Lego structures to self-sustaining aquaponic ecosystems, I have always loved to plan, design, and create things. And through many kinds of projects in the Environmental Science Center at my high school like landscaping, habitat construction, and self-sustaining ecosystems, that passion was focused into my major civil engineering. Ever since then I wanted to become a civil engineer. 

I chose to attend the Cooper Union because of the opportunities. Not only would I learn skills and knowledge important to a professional career from the curriculum, but I would also be able to connect with the faculty and students on a deeper level, unlike other universities. I am also interested in the fields surrounding my major, such as design, wayfinding, and architecture, which Cooper Union provides interdisciplinary classes for which I look forward to taking. I am also looking forward to the city life and exploring the many different communities that the city and Cooper Union has. 

Over the summer I went to Korea and met with family and friends. After I came back, I spent time with my friends before they all went off to their respective colleges. I also longboarded around as usual, enjoying the weather and exploring new places.

Amanda BlancaAmanda Blanca
Miami, FL via Cuba

Since a young age, art has always been something I gravitated towards, but I became interested in the formal study of art and design after my grandfather started showing signs of early dementia. On a day to day basis, my grandfather not only struggles to remember his family, but also, his wayfinding abilities have declined, limiting his everyday activities. In the past year, I’ve done countless projects that have allowed me to better express what it’s like to live with someone who’s affected by Alzheimer’s for those who don’t understand it. It has provided me great comfort knowing that the many facets that define my grandfather, aside from his Alzheimer's, are being acknowledged. My interest in art has allowed me to not only reconnect with my grandfather, but also given him a voice to be something more than just his Alzheimer’s.

While The Cooper Union has always been known as a highly selective school with very rigorous programs, a very out of the ordinary home-test immediately sparked my interest. After getting the most constructive portfolio review in comparison to other art institutions, I realized how much I’d miss out on if I didn't apply. After completing the home-test, I felt so pleased and impressed by the results and by how much I raised the bar for myself. I knew that if I got accepted, I would be surrounded by people who felt equally pushed to ask more purposeful questions that would ultimately serve to be the catalyst for a positive impact in our community.  

I intend to take advantage of all the resources Cooper has to offer–from interacting with students of the engineering school, to discussing the implementations of equal access standards throughout history with students of the architecture school. Not to mention being part of a wonderful group of artists that will soon enough be like my family. Though I'll miss the beautiful Miami weather, I'm excited to start living more independently. (And snow! I’d love to see snow for the first time!) 

Over the summer I was fortunate enough to spend my time traveling with my family around Spain, Germany, and Dubai. I decided to spend most of my travels in art and history museums to take note of the materials and tools that were accessible to past civilizations and how they were used to create incredibly complex things with such simple components. From the mountains to the dessert, there was so much culture to take in and appreciate. I hope to incorporate the art and design approaches I witnessed around the world in my own body of work.

  • 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.