Shoop's Stoop - December 2023 Newsletter

POSTED ON: December 6, 2023

Shoop Stoop Graphic

Given the tumultuous state of our world today, I thought it would be appropriate for us to begin by reflecting on the original vision of Peter Cooper during a similarly divisive period in American history. In a letter to the Cooper Union Trustees in 1859, Peter Cooper shared the following:

“I trust that the students of this institution will do something to bear back the mighty torrent of evils now pressing on the world. I trust that here they will learn to overcome the evils of life with kindness and affection.”

Since its founding over 164 years ago, The Cooper Union has risen to make hugely positive impacts that have shaped our city and nation. We collectively have the privilege and the responsibility of sustaining Peter Cooper’s founding vision, and I am confident that we will continue this impactful legacy.  

As we quickly approach the end of fall semester and anticipate a much-needed winter break, I wanted to provide an update of the activities in the Albert Nerken School of Engineering since our last newsletter in October.

Our students continue to knock it out of the park. This semester we have had a total of 58 engineering students attend conferences around the country. This represents over 10% of the students in the School of Engineering! Of this total, 36 presented research results in the form of posters or oral presentations. As is our tradition, our chemical engineering students walked away with a number of awards for the Undergraduate Research Poster Competition at the 2023 AIChE Annual Student Conference. Emma Cohen BSE’24 took 1st Place in the Material Science Division, Caitlin Noonan ChE’25 took 1st Place Overall Environmental Division Award and 1st Place Award in Environmental Division I, and our Cooper Brue Team took 1st Place for Best Beer Label and 3rd Place Overall in the Annual Beer Brewing Competition. I encourage you to read the articles in this newsletter about some of the students and conferences. These student professional development experiences are made possible through the generous donations of Alan Fortier ChE’79 and Gerry Posner EE’69.

Since my last Shoop’s Stoop, we have added two staff members to the School of Engineering Dean’s Team. Earlier in the semester, we welcomed Jake Zweiback as a part time Student Accommodations and Proctoring Scheduler and toward the end of the semester we expanded his role to include student payroll and a full-time position. On November 27, Ms. Blair Ribeiro joined as our new Research Grants Administrator for the School of Engineering. With our new faculty hires, we are seeing increased research productivity and needed a full-time grant manager to support our faculty pre- and post-grant award needs. Blair comes to us with years of experience in grant management. Previously, she was Grant and Contract Officer at Cornell University and most recently the Senior Grants and Contracts Administrator at Georgetown University. She has tremendous experience with federal funding agencies, New York State grants, and foundations. She also has paralegal experience. We look forward with anticipation to this new role and Blair’s contributions!

We continue to innovate and improve our curriculum and improve our students’ experience. On November 14, the Engineering Curriculum Committee met to consider several curricular changes including the addition of several courses. The Department of Mechanical Engineering proposed the addition of two new cross-registered interdisciplinary courses: EID233 Environmental Technologies for the Built Environment: Fundamentals and EID234 Environmental Technologies for the Built Environment: Materials and Systems. These two engineering courses will be cross registered with ARCH134A Environmental Technologies EVT Fundamentals and ARCH134B Environmental Technologies: Matter, Materials, and Making allowing engineering students to enroll in these two required architecture courses. Additionally, a new chemistry elective was introduced: Ch381 Environmental Chemistry and Climate Change. This course will develop and consider important aspects of environmental science within the context of global climate change. It will introduce and apply the core ideas of green chemistry, an international environmental movement. And finally, last year’s successful interdisciplinary capstone pilot was formalized and improved further this year. On December 5, we hosted an Interdisciplinary Capstone Showcase where students presented and celebrated their fall semester achievements.

And for an update on one of our new superstar faculty, Alice Pisani. You may recall that Alice is the first Cooper faculty member to hold a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor of Physics at Cooper Union and as an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Computational Astrophysics of the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute. In 2019, Alice applied for a prestigious European grant and earlier this semester she was notified that she has been awarded a $1.4M euro grant to support her research on cosmic voids. She will be taking a leave of absence beginning in February to move to Europe to work on this research. She must reside in Europe between 18-months and 2-years before she meets a residency requirement and could return to the US and potentially Cooper. During the first year, she will make the decision on whether she will return to Cooper because she misses teaching or will stay in Europe focused solely on research. If she decides that research is her passion, we have a commitment from the Director of the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute to hire another faculty member into this joint appointment position. I tell people I have three emotions associated with these developments: first, I am thrilled that she was able to secure such an important scientific position and funding that will drive this important research field forward; second, I am sad that she will be leaving Cooper Union – but hopefully only for a short time; and third, I am grateful that our students had the opportunity to engage with and benefit from a faculty member the caliber of Alice.

Finally, in our quest to better engage with industry, on December 7 we hosted several senior leaders from Nokia Bell Labs and Intel Corporation here at Cooper Union. Part of their agenda was the collaboration between Nokia and Intel, but we also introduced Cooper Engineering to Intel Corporation in an effort to add this company to our growing list of collaborators.

Thank you again for sharing your valuable time with me on Shoop’s Stoop! You should know that these are just a few of the highlights – the tips of the waves. There are many more great things happening in the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. I look forward to sharing additional updates in future editions of Shoop’s Stoop!

On behalf of the entire faculty and staff of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, we wish for you a joyous holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year! 

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.