Shoop's Stoop - October 2023 Newsletter

POSTED ON: October 2, 2023

Shoop Stoop Graphic

It’s that time again when I usher you back to the East Village for a conversation on Shoop’s Stoop! The start of the academic year brings new beginnings, renewal, and the start of the next chapter. For our students, this new beginning is filled with excitement, anticipation, uncertainty and even apprehension. The incoming first-year class is an amazing group of talented individuals who will bring diverse lived experiences, contribute to the richness of our learning environment, and add to the vibrancy of our community. Like our returning students, they have a voracious appetite for learning and are anxious to engage with our community. I want to share some of the things that happened in the Albert Nerken School of Engineering since our last update in June.

This academic year is our ABET Record Year. We will submit a request for evaluation to ABET by January 31, 2024, that will initiate our reaccreditation.  In preparation for the visit, a Self-Study Report for each of the ABET accredited programs must be submitted to ABET by July 1, 2024. The reaccreditation evaluation will be a comprehensive review with an on-site visit scheduled for Fall 2024. Over the summer, we had 10 faculty members from across our four ABET-accredited departments begin the draft of their self-studies, so we are off to a strong start! 

In addition to our focus on ABET, another emerging theme for this academic year is on the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI). In June, I attended the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) Annual Meeting in Baltimore and participated in a session on generative AI in engineering education. There is a very broad spectrum of impact from faculty concerns about academic dishonesty to improvements in student tutoring, support for students with English as a second language to faculty use to create quizzes, reference letters, virtual teaching assistants, and more. Additionally, at our last meeting in April, our Engineering Advisory Council (EAC) admonished us to prepare our students to understand and gain experience using AI tools, which will be prevalent in their professional futures. As a result of these and a growing number of articles about this technology, I am organizing several activities throughout the year. At our first faculty meeting on September 5th, Professors of Electrical Engineering Sam Keene and Carl Sable conducted a workshop that provided an overview of how generative AI works and introduced ChatGPT to our faculty. Later this semester, our Engineering Student Council will organize an open forum for students and faculty to discuss uses of this technology, now and in the future. On the theme of generative AI, Mike Essl, the Dean of Art here at Coper Union, and I visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to see the Refik Anadol exhibition Unsupervised that uses artificial intelligence to interpret and transform more than 200 years of art at MoMA We are using New York City as our laboratory! And finally, in December we will host Mark Vasquez (ME’88), Senior Program Manager of IEEE TechEthics, again for an IEEE TechEthics panel discussion, this year on the ethics associated with generative AI.

The beginning of the academic year also brings several new appointments, Dirk Martin Luchtenburg, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering was appointed the C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering. Awarded by the Deans of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, the named professorship goes to mid-career, tenured, associate, or full professor faculty members with documented research accomplishments including peer-reviewed journal, conference papers, and presentations as well as evidence of scholarly collaboration with other institutions and/or corporations. The distinction lasts two years and comes with a $20,000 annual stipend for research activities such as travel, research assistants, equipment, and supplies. Additionally, Sam Keene, Professor of Electrical Engineering, was appointed the inaugural John and Mary Manuck Distinguished Professor of Design. This newly endowed distinguished professor will raise the visibility of design as a unifying element in interdisciplinary approaches at the intersection of art, architecture, engineering, and the humanities and social sciences, and collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to create innovative solutions to societal challenges. Professor Keene will serve as the John and Mary Manuck Distinguished Professor of Design for a three-year tenure, after which the appointment will rotate to another professional school at The Cooper Union.

At the start of Fall Semester, we welcomed two new full-time faculty members to the Albert Nerken School of Engineering and the Department of Civil Engineering. Hejintao Huang joins us after receiving her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a geotechnical disciplinary focus. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University and her research focuses on the beneficial use of waste materials. Jeong Eun Ahn received her Ph.D. from NYU Tandon School of Engineering in 2019 with a hydraulics disciplinary focus. She comes to us with four years of teaching experience at Rowan University and her research focuses on developing sustainable water systems and increasing the resiliency of coastal communities. The face of the full-time engineering faculty continues to evolve. Over the past three years, I have hired 10 new tenure-track faculty, nearly 1/3 of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in the School of Engineering. In 2013, the composition of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in the School of Engineering was 6.3% women and in Fall 2023 it is 42% women!

Earlier in September, Washington Monthly released their 2023 rankings and Cooper is ranked #1 Bachelor’s college (#3 in 2022) as well as 22 as best bang for buck in NE.  Also in early September, in the New York Times article The College Access Index Returns | A new look at economic diversity in higher education, Cooper Union was identified among the Largest Increases in the Share of Pell Grant Recipients at Selective Colleges, going from 13% in AY2011 to 29% in AY2021. Additionally, on September 18, the 2024 U.S. News & World Report rankings were released. The school has sustained its overall ranking of #9 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs where a doctorate is not offered. In the Regional Colleges North category, Cooper continues to be #1 Best Value Schools and #2 in Regional Colleges North. Finally, Niche released its 2024 Best Colleges in New York ranking of 228 four-year private and public colleges in New York State and Cooper Union was ranked #6 with an A+ overall Niche grade.

Finally, I invite you to explore the articles included in this newsletter. You will find inspiring articles highlighting the accomplishments of students, faculty, staff and alumni, an indication of the vibrancy of all that is going on in the School of Engineering.

Thank you for sharing a seat and some time with me on Shoop’s Stoop! It continues to be an exciting time to be part of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. I look forward to sharing additional updates in future editions.

Barry L. Shoop, Ph.D., P.E.  |  Dean of Engineering  |  Albert Nerken School of Engineering

Barry L. Shoop
  • 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.