NYU-Poly Launches First Engineering Program in NYU Abu Dhabi

They are, without question, some of the finest young intellects ever to walk the hallowed halls of academia. Of varied interests, representing 39 countries on 6 continents, and speaking 43 languages, the inaugural class of NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) including the first participants of NYU-Poly’s collaborative engineering and research program, has elevated their global citizenry by reaching halfway around the world to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Unlike NYU’s 18 study abroad programs, the World’s Honors College, as it is also known, is a full-fledged liberal arts college with a new and dynamic engineering program. The engineering program is an integral part of the overall curriculum and was developed specifically by NYU-Poly faculty–a point that has not been lost on the students, with 21 already opting for the “Engineering Foundations” course in their first semester.

“The goal of the engineering curriculum is to prepare students to be leaders for tomorrow’s technologically advanced, competitive global economy,” says NYU-Poly Professor Sunil Kumar, who is the dean of engineering of NYUAD. “The curriculum eschews traditional engineering disciplinary demarcations, thereby fostering a broad understanding of the field, while developing depth in thematic concentrations.”

The three concentrations available are Information, Computation and Electronic Systems; Urban Systems; and Biomedical and Health Systems, each of which draw upon content from the traditional engineering disciplines.

Students enjoyed “Marhaba Week” (welcome week in Arabic) during the waning days of Ramadan. Activities, which included student orientation seminars and workshops and an iftar dinner, when the traditional Ramadan fast is broken, took place in a large white tent.

Of the 9,048 applications received worldwide, 180 were accepted for admission; only 39 turned down the offer. The candidate pool proved to be so extraordinary that the final class of 150 was, in fact, 50 percent higher than anticipated. “These students are outstanding in every aspect,” says NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin. “They are intellectually curious, socially and culturally diverse, multilingual and very serious about their education and the contributions they will make to the world.”

A third of the Class of 2014 reside in the United States, followed by the UAE, China, Hungary and Russia. Before making a final decision, students were invited to Abu Dhabi during one of five Candidate Weekends. These weekends offered students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with faculty and counselors as well as their extraordinary peers.

NYU Abu Dhabi was made possible by a partnership between NYU and the government of Abu Dhabi. The cost of the program is subsidized by the Abu Dhabi government. Students are offered financial aid by NYU, which is committed to ensuring that no student will have to incur debt in order to attend the college.

There is no doubt that cultural and social adjustments will have to be made, but most students believe that is part of the learning curve and understanding a different culture will make them more valued global citizens. Classes are small – usually less than 12 – and the courses are multidisciplinary, seminar-focused and taught in English.