Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers


The Cooper Union’s Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers (RPIE) is a free professional development opportunity that supports immigrant, refugee, and asylee engineers as they build a competitive portfolio to equip them for the professional workforce and the career they want.


RPIE Fall 2024 Application Now Open. Apply by August 5th!


Interested in learning more about the program? Join us for an application event and workshop! Learn more and register here.

Program Overview

RPIE offers engineers the opportunity to increase their technical knowledge and keep up with the latest engineering trends. Participants gain a stronger understanding of what engineering looks like in the U.S., and which hard and soft skills employers most require. The program is structured to help participants gain the tools needed to succeed in today’s workforce through preparation for certification exams, introductions to emerging key topics, problem-based seminars, and the technical and professional communication skills required in today’s market. 
Professional development opportunities include:

  • Coursework in emerging and established engineering and technology fields such as OSHA, Green Building, HVAC, Building Systems, Cost Estimating, AISC Steel, ACI Concrete, AutoCAD, Revit, Java, C#, Linux, SQA, SQL, and Cybersecurity. To see past course schedules visit the Course List.
  • Communications-intensive courses on presentations, project pitches, and management
  • Workshops and one-on-one support for developing job application materials such as resumes, cover letters, and portfolios and establishing a professional presence online
  • Preparation for job interviews 
  • Foundation Series to build technical vocabulary and comfort working with digital tools for collaboration and presentations
  • Professional networking opportunities with industry leaders and access to a professional engineering community
  • Career counseling and job placement support
  • An innovative curriculum that responds to market analysis and emerging industry trends 
  • Download the RPIE PDF Flyer.


Engineers and those in related fields are eligible to participate in RPIE if they are:

  • an immigrant, refugee, or asylum seeker who has a degree in an engineering field from a university outside the US OR an immigrant, refugee, or asylum seeker with an international degree who has worked in a field related to engineering.
  • authorized to work in the US.
  • comfortable writing, speaking, reading, and listening in English in a classroom setting.
  • unemployed, underemployed, or employed in a job not related to your field. 
  • interested in building community, strengthening your technical expertise, and developing communication skills.
  • must live in New York City or within a reasonable commuting distance of New York City

Join our mailing list to receive updates on the RPIE applications and the latest program news.

View Our Current Flyer

To contact us:
email us at
call us at 212-252-4070

RPIE at a Glance


Program Component Description
Program Cost: Free 
Eligible Participants: Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers with a background in engineering, architecture, technology, or other related fields. Participation in RPIE does not impact immigration status.
Location: For the Fall '24 term, all courses will take place online. Some program events, workshops, and peer learning will take place at The Cooper Union
Course Blocks: The Built Environment: Structures & Buildings; Environmental Engineering & Sustainability; Operations Infrastructure & Transportation; Data Infrastructure & Security
Professional Development Opportunities: Foundation Series; Communications and Culture Programming; Portfolio Workshops; Networking Events; One-on-One Support; and Career Counseling
Program Dates:

Fall Term: September 5 - Dec. 21st

Spring Term: February - July

Summer 25: June-Aug

Application Deadlines:

Summer 2024: April 28th

Fall Term 2024: Application Opens May 1st. Application Deadline Aug. 5th

Spring Term 2025: TBA


Participating in RPIE

About RPIE

RPIE’s programming is based on market analysis of the most critical hard and soft skills for careers in today’s New York City engineering workforce. The program includes technical courses in areas such as structure & buildings, environmental engineering, data science, transportation, cybersecurity, and coding to help engineers keep up with the changing field as well as communications and culture courses to advance digital skills, refine English technical vocabulary and problem-solving abilities, and hone presentation skills. Increasingly, the engineering profession requires an ability to work in teams, collaborate to solve problems, or build-out project plans. Our seminar-style, collaborative, and community-based classes prepare program participants for these workplace demands. We provide one-on-one support for job documents and offer strategies for conducting a job search and acing an interview. Participants are invited to attend discussion groups and networking events to develop informal English workplace communication skills and learn more about the engineering labor market and emerging opportunities and trends.


Foundation Series 

The Foundation Series is a preparatory set of courses and workshops that meets before the twelve-week RPIE term. In these workshops, participants strengthen the core skills necessary to succeed in the RPIE program and build the communication and soft skills frequently highlighted by our industry partners. These courses also provide participants the chance to network with one another and practice formal and informal communication. For more information, please visit the Foundation Series.

Course Blocks 

For the Fall term, RPIE offers technical courses from mid-October through December designed to support participants in developing new skills or strengthening previous expertise and preparing for certification exams. RPIE’s market analysis identifies top hard and soft skills in job postings, and our course offerings reflect those demands. Participants select a course block that supports their intended field of employment and enrolls in courses offered within that track.

The course blocks combine general engineering degrees with the knowledge and skills currently sought in the top industries. The Spring 2024 program course blocks can be viewed here.  

The course List and Schedule for Fall 2023 term are available here.

Professional Development Opportunities

RPIE is committed to supporting participants’ professional development by building a community of engineering professionals, providing networking opportunities with industry leaders, and working with participants on resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills, and job search strategies. Communications and Culture courses and workshops help engineers refine their English technical vocabulary and presentation skills, develop project pitches and plans, build digital literacy, strengthen their problem-solving abilities, and practice working collaboratively. Our team works with participants one-on-one to design a career plan and build a professional job. portfolio we offer regular discussion groups to help develop conversational English workplace communication skills and networking events to expand your professional network.

Program History

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. In 2015 the program moved entirely to The Cooper Union. In 2016 a partnership was formed with the Workforce Development Department at CAMBA. The program is now administered by The Cooper Union and serves over 225 students a year. For more about the past, present, and future of the program see,  A Foundational Commitment Continues.

Our Sponsors

The Cooper Union Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers is made possible through generous donations from the Robin Hood Foundation and Con Edison. The Cooper Union Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers would also like to thank our individual donors for their support.

 Donor Icons

  • 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.