1. FEB CEB

    It seems unlikely that a school as small and unconventional as Cooper would host something as cheesy as a school dance. Nevertheless, Feb Ceb serves as the closest model of a prom that Cooper has to offer. After four years at Cooper, it’s never before dawned on me to question why our prom would be hosted during February, of all months, and why February Celebration even broke down into “Feb Ceb” in the first place. Perhaps it’s Cooper’s homage to Valentine’s Day or just the best time to have a prom, before school gets too crazy with school. Regardless, there’s something simple and warm about the entire night. College can have a really strong maturing effect on students, which in most cases is one of its most valuable qualities. Taking a night to dress up in your best, eat some quality food, and dance for hours with your friends somehow reminds us of how great college life really is.

    Since this was my fourth and final Feb Ceb, I suppose I had a stronger attachment to the entire night. Feb Ceb this year started just like any other night, getting ready at our apartment with our friends and heading over to the Great Hall, walking through the streets in our suits and dresses. However, by the end of the night, things felt very different. At the end of the night, the DJ dedicated the last song to the graduating class of 2014. The underclassmen cleared the dance floor, and the Seniors took over. The remainder of the night was filled with tight hugs and some tears shed here and there. Even though graduation was months away, and the semester had just started, it was not the least bit surprising that every single Senior immediately became aware of how little time we all had left to share with each other. Regardless, it didn’t stop us from making the most of the night and certainly won’t stop us from making the most of this year.

    - Michael, Civil Engineering (‘14)

  2. SPRING SEMESTER 2014: WEEK TWO

    The second week of school has definitely been an interesting one from a class and social perspective. I’ve finally had my first sessions in Thermodynamics and Materials Science, so I thought that I would share what these two classes are about in this blog post, in addition to a description of some of the fun social events that happened this week at school.

    As said by my very animated professor, who is also Cooper Alum, “Thermodynamics is the bread and butter of Chemical Engineering”.  Thermodynamics essentially relates energy (such as mechanical work or chemical energy) to heat. This Thermodynamics course lays the foundation for Physical Chemistry I and II, which ChemE’s take in their junior year. In my Materials Science class, we learnt that Chemical Engineers use materials science in a very unique way. Rather than purely studying the properties of matter, Chemical Engineers focus on the application of material science knowledge for engineering purposes such as process design. Without a doubt, the sophomore class felt that we were finally breaking into the core of our major.

    This week was also very exciting as preparations for Cooper Union’s annual February Celebration (Feb Ceb) were under way. Feb Ceb is a party usually held on the first Saturday of February for the students. Students dress formally for an evening dinner followed by dancing in the Great Hall of the Foundation Building. This week  the Engineering Student Council ( ESC), together with the athletic teams and Cooper’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) have been putting up posters, selling tickets and decorating for Feb Ceb on Saturday. I’m very much looking forward to Saturday as I’ll finally be able to hang out with my friends from other majors, whom I don’t see often since we have all split off into different tracks this semester.

    - Arielle, Chemical Engineering (‘16) 

  3. DEAN BAKER’S ANNUAL SKI TRIP

    I should preface this entry by saying I have a pretty awful tolerance for cold weather, and I do my best to limit my relationship with snow to just appreciating it from afar.

    Every year for the past 38 years, Dean of Student Services, Stephen Baker, has organized a ski trip for students during winter break in Mount Sutton, Canada. Keeping my apprehensions in mind, I had successfully evaded this trip for the first three years of my cooper career, despite the unremitting urgings of my friends. Nevertheless, once Senior year rolled around, I caved under the pressure and signed myself away to our friendly neighbors in the North for one entire week. Maybe it was some gooey senior sentiments leaking through, or the realization that I had reached 21 years of age and didn’t even know how to put on skis, but regardless, I caved, and I’m glad I did.

    The trip started with a bus ride to Canada, mostly spent sleeping, with a few games and movies here and there. Once we got to Mount Sutton, we split up with our roommates, bought groceries for the week, and set up camp at our chalets. All of the chalets are residents’ homes located on the mountain that are rented out by Dean Baker for the week - complete with full amenities, fireplaces, couches, TVs, the works. The entire trip is comprised of 1) skiing every morning from 8 AM to 4 PM, 2) designated trip activities, including dodge ball, curling, free dinners, a trip to Montreal, and parties at the main lodge, and 3) downtime in our chalets, generally spent relaxing with our friends, drinking hot chocolate.

    The first morning of the trip, everybody is shuttled to the bottom of the mountain, where we rent out our skiing and snowboarding equipment. The experts headed straight up to their choice of slopes, while myself and the other novices headed over to the Bunny Hill to start what, over the years, has affectionately been entitled “Dean Baker’s Ski School.” For those who are yet to meet Dean Baker, all you need to know is that he’s really passionate about anything and everything athletic, at any given time chances are he’s giving some sort of speech, and he genuinely cares about the students at Cooper. These three facts have never seemed truer to me than during my first couple days at ski school. Even though we all started out knowing nothing, Dean Baker patiently showed us the ropes and personally brought us farther and farther up the mountain, until we each individually got his blessing to “graduate” ski school, when he felt we had enough control to ski safely on tougher slopes.

    Dean Baker always tells us that, for whatever reason, Cooper students always learn to ski and snowboard really quickly. The unspoken truth behind it is that skiing and snowboarding are no different than life at Cooper. When you first ski, you have to spend a few hours struggling, falling and getting back up. Once you get through that struggle and gain control, all you want to do is push yourself to try harder and harder slopes because you know you can. Cooper students are challenged on a daily basis. We’re trained not to get intimidated by challenges or be distraught by initial failure. There’s nothing more natural to us than getting up after you fall, moving forward, and knowing that there’s no more satisfying feeling than that moment when it’s finally your turn to be the expert.

    - Michael, Civil Engineering (‘14)

  4. DEAR POTENTIAL COOPERITES,

    It’s the first week of the 2014 Spring Semester here at the Cooper Union. I am entering into my second semester as a Sophomore Chemical Engineer. This was a pretty eventful week. The current sophomores were introduced to a few new faculty members who are well versed in their subject and have quite a bit of experience in industry. The second day of school was also unfortunately cancelled due to inclement weather.

    This semester marks a slight change in the ChemE curriculum. In the Spring, sophomore ChemE’s typically take Organic Chemistry II, Organic Chemistry Lab, Thermodynamics, Differential Equations, Modern Physics and HSS4. In addition to these courses, we are now taking Material Science for Chemical Engineers, a course usually taken senior year. In addition to these seven courses, I opted to take Principles of Electrical Engineering, which is usually taken Junior year. This electrical engineering class lasts 10 weeks for ChemE’s, whilst the other majors take it for a full semester.

    Thus far, I’ve had introductory classes for Physics, Differential Equations and Organic chemistry lab. Today I had my first lab experiment, in which we determined the melting point of urea, cinnamic acid and a mystery compound using Mel Temp apparatus and thermocouples. It was a fairly straight forwarded experiment which took two out of the four designated lab hours. Tomorrow I take my first electrical engineering course at Cooper, and I can’t wait to see what it’s all about.

    - Arielle, Chemical Engineering (‘16)

  5. THE FIRST OFFER

    Today, I had the experience that marks every Senior’s transition to freedom: accepting an offer. Somewhere in that hustle and bustle of applications and suits, a couple companies felt that I was the right fit for them. After a couple of weeks of deliberating, today I officially accepted an offer from TIAA-CREF, a financial services company, to work as a Technical Associate in their New York Office.

    To be completely honest, after four years, I still don’t have a concrete idea of what it is I want to dedicate the rest of my life to. Traditionally, Cooper is a school where students come to pursue their passions – art, architecture and engineering, and commit to this field from an early age. As such, engineering students generally discover early on in their lives that they want to be an engineer, and have an unwavering faith to that mission throughout their four years. Nevertheless, every so often, there’s somebody that slips through the cracks. I came to Cooper for the environment and because I knew, whether or not I wanted to be an engineer, I definitely had an engineer’s outlook on life.

    Finally accepting an offer – an offer that you really think is the right fit for you – means no more applications, no more interviews, and no more cloud over your head constantly reminding you that you should be applying to jobs whenever you have a free second. More than that, it finally gives me the opportunity to appreciate and focus on what Senior year should be about – learning what you want to learn, enjoying your last year with your friends, and working on leaving the school better off than when you started.

    - Michael, Civil Engineering (‘14)

  6. EVERYTHING AND TURKEY

    Every year since we’ve been at Cooper, a big chunk of students in my year get together and have what we call “Everything But Turkey (EBT)” before we all leave for Thanksgiving break. Everybody brings in some sort of holiday-related food with only one rule: no turkey allowed. The night’s spent relaxing, engorging on food and talking about what we’ve been thankful for over the past few years together.

    This year, our last Thanksgiving together before we all split up and take on the world as young professionals, we switched up the game a little bit. After three years of Everything But Turkey, we came together for one last holiday meal for Everything And Turkey. Fortunately (or unfortunately) enough, my apartment was in charge of making the turkey, and despite the fact that none of us had any inkling of experience brining and roasting a turkey, we managed to successfully serve a 20 lb turkey with no especially adverse effects besides one minor fire along the way…

    The whole night was a reminder of how lucky we were to be surrounded by people we considered to be family. Cooper brings together some of the quirkiest and most eclectically talented students you could think of. Somehow, despite our differences, something about the Cooper’s atmosphere draws us to each other to a point where we’re more than just classmates.

    - Michael, Civil Engineering (‘14)

  7. THANKSGIVING BREAK

    Dear Potential Cooperites,

    I am currently at a relative’s home for Thanksgiving break. Although I have a lot of things I need to finish, namely an essay, Energy and Material Balances (EMB) homework, and studying for two early finals for Vector Calculus and EMB next week, I plan to get some R&R and family bonding into the mix as well. This is going to be a good break before finals kick into gear. Yikes!

    This week has been productive in terms of chores. After ending classes early on Wednesday, I spent some time shopping for Christmas presents for my friends and a novel for my humanities course. I am so relieved that I was able to get most my friends’ Christmas presents wrapped before finals start. It’s amazing to be able to witness transformation of the East Village into a holiday wonderland. The many stores near Cooper have started decorating and stocking up for the holidays, and a few Christmas tree vendors have started to appear already.

    The part that I’m most excited about is visiting the Christmas Market at Union Square, which is filled with the most amazing holiday themed booths selling fine jewelry, teas, clothes, decorations and anything else you could possible think of! The best part is that it’s in walking distance of Cooper’s campus. I definitely plan to make a few more outings to Union Square and other novelty stores near campus to do some Christmas shopping for my family.

    Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and stay tuned for next week’s post.

    — Arielle, Chemical Engineering (‘16)

  8. THE JOB HUNT

    There are only so many times you can fill out your work experience before you start wondering why nobody ever made a Common App for the professional realm. It was only by Senior year that I realized that working with Cooper’s career center was the best way to get yourself out there. To be honest, submitting an online application to a company feels a little like throwing your resume into a giant river – you know you sent it, you know it’ll end up somewhere, but there’s a decent chance it may never see human eyes again. The career center became my connection to the rest of the world – the connection to companies that were looking for students just like me.

    The way I see it, your resume is just a well-crafted tool to get you through the door – a ticket to get you an interview. For the most part, companies that are worth it – the companies that really foster a great environment – will always ask you to interview. The interview itself is your opportunity to sell yourself. The company has already shown that you’re worth their time. The only thing you have to do is use that time the best you can.

    At the start of Cooper, interviews were always a little awkward for me. I was never really comfortable talking about my experiences, because somehow I was always under the impression that my interviewers would never be impressed. At some point things changed, and I realized that everything I’ve gone through at Cooper is what sets me apart from other candidates and was always worth mentioning. It was during this same revelation that I started going into interviews with the confidence that I was just the kind of candidate my interviewer was looking for. After all, if you don’t think you’re the perfect fit for a job, there’s no point trying to convince a stranger otherwise.

    Eventually, my new goal became to reach that point in every interview where I stop trying to sell myself to the interviewer and start encouraging the interviewer to sell their company to me.

    - Michael, Civil Engineering (‘14)

  9. THE STRUCTURE QUEST

    Every year, Cooper’s Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers hosts a Structure Quest with the Structural Engineering Association of New York. The goal of the quest is to form teams of civil engineering students and young professionals and explore New York City, on a hunt to answer clues regarding eclectic landmarks throughout the city.

    At the start of the event, teams are formed randomly, and immediately given their tasks. To complete each task, the students must identify the site described in each clue, visit that site, take a picture, and answer an associated trivia question. The team that returns with the most clues, and thus the most points, in under 3 hours wins.

    This year’s competitors traversed from the West edge of Brooklyn to the front steps of Columbia University, taking pictures along the way of major sites, like the United Nations Building, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, and more. The competition tests the team’s ability to recognize the descriptions of famous landmarks, travel to the site in the fastest time, and physically keep up with the race.

    As a student that was not a structural engineer and had very little exposure to New York City before coming to Cooper, the quest opened my eyes to some of the major organs throughout Manhattan. I finally found myself at places I had always knew existed but had never taken the time to visit, like the Hayden Planetarium, and discovered new marvels along the way, like the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

    Overall, it’s a strong reminder that New York City is as much a part of your Cooper experience as your coursework is, especially for a civil engineer. I can study about structures and construction as much as I want, but leaving the East Village, and seeing everything worth seeing throughout this city is what puts into perspective everything I’ve learned over the past few years.

    - Michael, Civil Engineering (‘14)