You were the kid who was always the 
first to figure things out. The VCR. 
Puzzles. Assembly instructions. 
And you've always been good at 
finding unexpected ways to solve
problems that leave other people
stumped. Congratulations:  
you've come to the right place.

The School of Engineering 
and Applied Science
Two students -- let's call them Chris and Alex -- attend the same high school. Both make good grades, especially in science and mathematics. Both graduate near the top of their class. And both head off to college to study engineering.

Chris chooses a large, respectable engineering school that offers a four-year program jam-packed with technical courses and labs. Just figuring out how to squeeze in all the required courses -- and how to take them in the proper sequence -- is a feat in itself. Some majors require signing up for necessary prerequisites before Chris has even decided which major to pursue. Take a couple of extra English electives? Handle the lighting for a play? Make a commitment to a neighborhood service project? Not if she wants to graduate in four years.

Fortunately, Chris loves doing engineering, so she focuses on the work -- surrounded mostly by several thousand fellow engineering students -- and graduates on time with a marketable but highly specialized degree. Sometimes, looking back on college years that are over, she wonders if maybe Alex might have made the better choice

The Alex scenario: steering clear of strictly technical engineering schools, Alex opts for the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia. Why? Because he has discovered that we offer solid, highly regarded programs in engineering and applied science. He also likes the fact that we permit -- indeed, require -- students to experience some of Columbia's famous core curriculum and to take a significant number of non-technical courses.

Unlike Chris, Alex spends the first two years of college taking rigorous courses that will serve as a foundation for any of several different engineering majors. As the same time, he completes his core curriculum requirements in small seminars alongside students in Columbia College. Alex also like the fact that, with about one thousand undergraduates, the School of Engineering and Applied Science is the smallest of the nation's leading engineering schools, but that all of the bells and whistles of Columbia University and New York City are included in the deal.

Alex graduates in four years, too. After weighing an number of possibilities, he accepts a technical job associated with the entertainment industry -- pursuing an interest he discovered during an elective course in film studies.

A world-class engineering program. In all likelihood, our school will appeal to you on several levels. First of all, there's our size and setting -- a small engineering school at an Ivy League research university in New York City. For the study of engineering, that combination is hard to beat.


The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers undergraduate programs in these fields:

Applied Mathematics
Applied Physics
Biomedical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Computer Science
Electrical Engineering
Engineering Management Systems
Engineering Mechanics
Geological Engineering
Industrial Engineering
Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Mining Engineering
Operations Research

Naturally, we offer an outstanding selection of academic majors in engineering and the applied sciences, all highly acclaimed programs designed to help you acquire the technical skills and intellectual discipline you'll need in order to become a leader in industry, government or education. Our undergraduate programs are based on excellence in teaching and research in such diverse fields as biomedical engineering, computer science, telecommunications, plasma physics and materials science, as well as in the traditional engineering disciplines.

Our manageable size greatly facilitates the teaching of design -- one of the greatest challenges in most engineering programs. We take the point of view that design is an art as well as a science, and we've worked hard to develop a sequence of courses that will progressively introduce you to the tools as well as the process of creative engineering design.

Many of our students take part in faculty research projects -- easy, since the faculty-to-student ratio is a highly favorable one-to-five for juniors and seniors in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Moreover, our academic departments are small enough for people to get to know each other, and students and faculty members enjoy a great deal of one-to-one interaction. This is not a school where you'll sit through lectures with hundreds of other students.

As a key element of your work in the school, we'll require you to complete twenty-eight points of credit in non-technical elective courses. That's significantly more non-technical courses than most other engineering schools require. What that means is that you'll get a very broad liberal education. Yes, you'll study engineering, applied mathematics or applied physics in depth. But you'll also do serious, meaningful work in the social sciences and the humanities. As you may suspect, our programs are attractive not only to students who plan to pursue careers in engineering, but also to students who wish to acquire a strong background in engineering or an applied science as a part of their preparation for an eventual career in a field such as medicine, law, business or journalism.

Your four-year program. What shape will your four-year program take? That depends a great deal on which major you eventually choose; you'll find the specifics for each departmental program in our academic bulletin. Your academic advisor will be on hand to help as you plan your schedule. In the meantime, however, we can be somewhat more definite about your first two years.

During your first and second years, you'll acquire a firm grounding in the three major introductory areas of technical inquiry: mathematics, physics and chemistry, completing rigorous courses in Columbia University's acclaimed science and mathematics departments. You'll also study computer science and economics, and you'll take a number of courses to satisfy the requirement for non-technical electives -- some of them prescribed, other of your choosing.

A significant component of your studies during these first two years will be your work in the core curriculum. For example, students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science will usually take either Art Humanities or Music Humanities during their first year. Each is a one-term course. During their sophomore year, most students will choose one of the following two-term core course sequences:Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilization orAsian Civilizations. In addition, you'll be allowed to take courses in areas of the humanities and social sciences such as art history, foreign languages and cultures, history, music, philosophy, political science, religion and sociology.

You'll be expected to declare a major near the end of your sophomore year, and when you reach the junior-senior level, you'll join the department that offers the program you've selected.

  This is an incredibly diverse school.  You can walk into any 
  classroom and meet people from half a dozen other countries
  and Americans of half a dozen ethnicities.  You're often 
  among people who share your academic interests but who 
  are different from you in other ways, and you all grow together.

Stephen Fischer '95



Columbia has been educating engineers since the middle of the eighteenth century. Among the Alumni: John Stevens, one of the inventors of the steamboat; DeWitt Clinton, American statesman and the commissioner responsible for the Erie Canal; General William Barclay Parsons, chief engineer of the New York City subway system and the Cape Cod Canal; Michael I. Pupin, inventor of the transmission equipment that made long-distance telephoning possible; Grove Loening, designer of the first successful rigid monoplane; Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of the super heterodyne circuit and FM radio; Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, father of the nuclear navy; and Joseph F. Engelberger, the father of modern robotics.

  I've never had any problem getting in touch with a member
  of the faculty, especially those who teach computer science.  
  They all have e-mail, ad it's not unusual for some of them to
  check their electronic mailboxes at two o'clock in the morning.

  Peter Lange '97
Pre-med. Our curriculum includes many of the courses required by professional schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry, osteopathic medicine and veterinary medicine. With careful planning, you'll be able to complete your degree in an engineering or applied science discipline as well as the pre-medical requirement.

Pre-law. Undergraduate work in the School of Engineering and Applied Science offers highly satisfactory preparation for continued study in law. Law schools don't require specific programs as preparation for admission, however, and we suggest only that pre-law students take courses in English, philosophy, political science or history to fulfill their requirement for non-technical elective courses.

Joint-degree programs. Joint programs are available for students who wish to combine their work in the School of Engineering and Applied Science with work in one of these schools:

  • Columbia College (A 4-1 program leads to the Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College. Students who choose this program study for four years in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and one additional year in Columbia College.)
  • The School of Law (A six-year program, available to two highly qualified juniors each year, leads to the Bachelor of Science and the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.)
  • The School of International and Public Affairs (A five-year program leads to the Bachelor of Science degree and the Master of International Affairs degree.)

The Gateway Learning Laboratory. The Gateway Lab is one of the newest additions to the School of Engineering and Applied Science -- and the first computer laboratory of its kind in the nation for use by undergraduates. A state-of-the-art facility, in enables undergraduates to create three-dimensional virtual reality simulations of their engineering designs, using the same advanced hardware and software that are widely used in the automotive, aerospace and entertainment industries. As a first-year student, you'll take course in the lab, which contains forty-five Silicon Graphics Indy workstations. And all through your undergraduate years, you'll have virtually unlimited access to this exceptional resource. (By the way, if you've seen Batman Forever, you've seen the work of Columbia students who polished their skills in the Gateway Lab.)

Only in New York. One of the many benefits of studying engineering or any applied science at Columbia is our proximity to AT&T Bell Laboratories, Bell Communications Research, Exxon Research, IBM Research Laboratories, International Paper, NYNEX, and other companies involved in high-technology research. Senior representatives of companies such as these often visit the campus to speak or take part in special programs, and our graduate and undergraduate students frequently undertake research or internships at such companies throughout the greater metropolitan area.

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last modified: January 14, 1997
Chris Gwiazda, College Web Manager,