Albert Nerken School of Engineering
With an average enrollment of about 450 undergraduate students, engineering is the largest of The Cooper Union’s schools. The school maintains small class sizes in courses and laboratories in order to provide for personal attention. It offers bachelor of engineering (B.E.) degree programs in chemical, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, accredited by the EAC commission of ABET*.
In addition, the school offers a general engineering program (B.S.E.). This program empowers students to create their own curricula (within carefully set parameters) in those areas of engineering that cross traditional boundaries—for example, computer science, entrepreneurship, biomedical, energy, sustainability, infrastructure, environmental, mechatronics, robotics, etc.
The B.S.E. program provides an excellent preparation for graduate work in law, medicine, business, finance, etc.
The integrated master’s program offers the opportunity to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in an engineering discipline at The Cooper Union within four, five or six years.
Degree programs are designed to prepare students to enter the workplace immediately after graduation or to pursue graduate study. An extraordinary number of Cooper Union engineering graduates go on to earn Ph.D. degrees at the nation’s most prestigious graduate schools. Others go on to study in fields such as medicine, law or business. Many graduates rise to leadership positions in industry, education and government.
The early curricula in engineering are based on intensive study in the sciences, mathematics, computer science and engineering sciences, which serve as preparation for deeper immersion within the engineering fields. Building on this strong base of mathematics and sciences, and emphasizing the integration of knowledge, these curricula promote an understanding of nature, the limitations of our present knowledge and the potential for advancing that knowledge.
Strong mathematical and computer skills are developed in all engineering students. This includes the ability to mathematically model and solve problems algorithmically, in a suitable language, and to use existing commercial packages for analysis and design. Students are expected to be highly computer literate and gain proficiency in specialized packages that are used both in elective and in required courses. The faculty expect assignments to be carried out using computers in appropriate ways, both as a design tool using packages and also as a platform for creating original software.
Defining characteristics of the School of Engineering’s programs are the emphasis on project-based learning and opportunities for undergraduate research. Students and their peers regularly join the faculty in solving real-life problems that exist in contemporary society. Multi-disciplinary teams, frequently cooperate with outside professionals, who act as mentors. Superior analytical abilities and thorough grounding in engineering fundamentals and design enable students to collaborate on these projects. Results may be published, presented at conferences or even patented.
A strong background in engineering design threads throughout the curriculum, starting with the first year. These design experiences take into consideration factors such as environmental issues, sustainability, economics, teamwork, societal impact, safety and political climate—showing students that a “design” is much more than a purely technological solution.
Some design problems are offered in collaboration with foreign universities to increase awareness of the global nature of the engineering profession (e.g., The Cooper Union’s study abroad and international exchange programs). Others may involve collaboration with industry, hospitals and/or other US universities.
Diverse electives are offered so that students can add a background in business and finance, additional mathematics and sciences or a “concentration” in an additional engineering area.
Like The Cooper Union’s other schools, the Albert Nerken School of Engineering is intimately involved with the New York metropolitan area. Sometimes, the city and its infrastructure are used as a laboratory. The school also draws on the region’s abundant talent and resources, including an outstanding array of engineers and scientists employed at major corporations, governmental agencies and consulting firms in the New York region. The school calls on physicians, lawyers and other specialists to collaborate on research and mentoring and to give unique insights into contemporary problems and social issues confronting modern engineers. Many of these professionals are alumni and may serve as adjunct faculty members lending a dynamism to the classroom.
Students benefit from an uncommonly close interaction with dedicated faculty, some of whom are alumni, in a conservatory style environment. Our faculty bring their diverse experiences to the classroom and laboratory setting and serve as role models to our students. Our students are encouraged to participate in The Cooper Union’s rich seminar and cultural programs as well as to attend talks by guest speakers. They join various professional societies, many of which have chapters at The Cooper Union. Students are inspired to qualify for membership in national engineering honor societies. They also participate in student government and sports, and take advantage of the vast cultural environment offered by New York City and the neighborhood.
The School of Engineering strongly encourages undergraduate research activities and permits juniors and seniors to register for graduate level courses, when deemed appropriate. This enrollment does not guarantee admission to the master’s program however. A Cooper Union undergraduate may declare the intent to complete an integrated degree in the second semester of the junior year or apply to the graduate program (Master of Engineering) in one of the degree-granting departments during the second semester of the senior year
Graduates of The Cooper Union are recruited by major national and international corporations, consulting companies, new ventures and graduate schools nationwide. Alumni are found in the top management and research leadership of many American corporations; hold key positions in federal, state and city agencies; and distinguish themselves on university faculties and administrations nationwide. Through their many and varied professional accomplishments, alumni have earned for the school its reputation for excellence.