Ruben Savizky ChE’98

From Student to Educator Ruben Savizky

From Student to Educator Ruben Savizky

Professor Ruben M. Savizky, received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Yale University. He began teaching in the Chemistry Department at Cooper in 2005 and even while an undergraduate, he had an interest in teaching, having volunteered as a math and science tutor and served as a teaching assistant for a summer chemistry program for high school students.

A native of Buenos Aires, Professor Savizky currently serves as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Albert Nerken School of Engineering.  As a dean, he now only teaches one class per semester, usually a core course such as general chemistry where he encounters engineering students from a variety of fields and occasionally a student from the schools of art or architecture. He’s had to fashion an approach to teaching that speaks to such a diverse group of students who come to the class with different interests and experience in the subject.

“I think it’s essential to emphasize the notion that education and learning are life-long processes,” he says. “In my experience, students come to Cooper Union with a tremendous amount of knowledge, but they may not realize how to apply that to ‘real-world’ situations, or to things that are a bit outside of their comfort zone.” As a result, he makes a point of creating assignments that encourage students to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. For instance, he asks first-year students to read peer-reviewed journal articles so they can get a sense of the type of research being performed in industry and academia, and how many of the basic concepts they learn in general chemistry are relevant to these problems.

“I ask them to write a critique of the work, and we go over the paper in class the following week, so students have a chance to discuss it and ask questions. Although a difficult assignment for most students, at the end of the semester they often tell me this was their favorite part of the course!”

  • 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.