Orientation: A first for
new graduate students
those wide-eyed youths hovering at only the very beginning of
their intellectual journey, universities routinely roll out
the red carpet and welcome them to campus with a fanfare of
Or, perhaps that is just how it sometimes appears to incoming
Graduate students come to campus with considerably less fanfare,
generally find their own way around campus, and quickly meld
into the scenery by being put to hard work in their laboratories.
In recent years, however, graduate students at the School
of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) had bewailed the
fact that they were missing a sense of community. They said
they did not have opportunities to meet other graduate students,
nor learn the ins and the outs of the SEAS.
first SEAS graduate orientation was capped off with
a barbecue and picnic for all SEAS graduate students.
by Frank Wojciechowski
Two years ago the SEAS Office of Graduate Affairs was founded,
and under the creative, ambitious tactics of E. David Mendez,
assistant dean for graduate affairs, the Princeton experience
for engineering graduate students has improved dramatically,
including the first ever SEAS graduate orientation.
The first-years gathered in the Friend Center for Engineering
Education to learn about engineering at Princeton and see
the faces of the people that make SEAS tick.
"You'll be here for some critical years that will really
shape the face of the engineering school," said Sanjeev
Kulkarni, associate dean for academic affairs, referring
to the SEAS strategic planning initiative that is in high
gear this fall. "You're a very select group, and we're
proud to have you here."
SEAS Dean Maria Klawe could not attend the affair,
but she left a special video message for the incoming graduate
graduate students enjoy the post-orientation barbeque..
by Frank Wojciechowski
"You graduate students are very important to us because
you're such a key part of the research that gets done here,"
Dean Klawe said.
She also advised the students to get out of the lab sometimes
and make a point of meeting other people in the University.
"Many areas of research are interdisciplinary now,"
she said. "Get to know people in other departments."
Indeed, one of the major foci of the SEAS for the future
is supporting and initiating more interdisciplinary research.
To give a taste of that to the incoming students, the Office
of Graduate Affairs invited three junior faculty members to
give presentations about their own research, which spans several
departments from within and outside of SEAS.
Jeff Carbeck, assistant professor of chemical engineering,
explained his collaborative research with faculty in the chemistry
and molecular biology departments. Professor Carbeck is working
on micro- and meso-scale devices that mimic the capabilities
of animals and natural materials. He is working from the idea
that perhaps the best way to achieve such capabilities is
by creating hybrid devices that use both mechanical robotics
and organic processes and materials.
Julie Young, assistant professor of civil and environmental
engineering, presented her research on the Multiscale Simulation
of Cavitating Flows. Cavitation is the term used for the phenomenon
that occurs when there is a decrease in the pressure of a
liquid and bubbles collapse, rebound, and collapse again.
This cycle can cause severe damage to metals, and is thus
of particular interest to the Navy. Applied cavitation has
many uses in military weaponry and defense, as well as nanotechnology,
marine wildlife science, and medical treatments.
"The beauty of interdisciplinary research is that you
and your collaborators find all these different applications,"
Professor Young said. "It's a lot of fun."
Ron Weiss, assistant professor of electrical engineering,
presented his research on programming cell communities. Professor
Weiss' laboratory designs digital logic circuits using biochemical
reactions, and then builds them into cells to program cells
to behave in a certain way. His research could have a myriad
of applications in medicine. Professor Weiss had some advice
for these new graduate students.
"Listen to those people who sound to you to be really
ridiculous and crazy," he said. "They've just been
trained in a different way. You can learn from these people."
Also in attendance at the orientation were the graduate coordinators
from the six engineering departments, as well as Edward
Wladas, head of the engineering library.
Members of the three SEAS graduate student organizations
introduced themselves. Phil Lenart of the Graduate
Social Committee and Rebecca Petersen of the Graduate
Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE) invited all the students
to get involved in their events.
The entire 11-membe r Graduate Engineering Council also filed
to the front of the room, each providing a tidbit of advice
to the students, saying everything from "stay well-rested"
to "call this number for good take-out lunch."
After the orientation activities, everyone moved over to
the E-Quad courtyard for what was widely considered to be
the most happenin' SEAS get-together in years.
All graduate students, faculty, and staff members were invited
and enjoyed plenty of freshly barbecued food, drink, music,
relaxed conversation, and perfect weather.
Many door prizes donated from local businesses were raffled
off to lucky and appreciative winners.
Overall, the "graduate community" that the Office
of Graduate Affairs has been working to create appeared alive
and well, looking forward to an excellent year.
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