Center for Urban Science and Progress gives its new grads their moment to shine

Zoom still of Victòria Alsina Burgués

CUSP’s academic director Victòria Alsina Burgués presiding over the virtual CUSP Capstone Showcase

August 9 was a milestone day at Tandon’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to harnessing the power of data to make urban communities around the globe more sustainable, livable, resilient, and equitable. 

That day, the students in the Center’s eighth cohort presented their capstone projects — the culmination of a demanding graduate program that taught them to link data science, statistics and analytics, and mathematics with complex urban systems, urban management, and policy. (As Industry Assistant Professor Victòria Alsina Burgués, who serves as CUSP’s academic director, said at the event, “Multiple doors open when you work at the intersection between data and urban issues.”)

The projects ranged widely, but all tackled societally important problems, including:

  • Mapping broadband access in New York City so that policymakers can aim to close the digital divide
  • Improving the transparency of police data
  • Helping public health officials predict the risk of opioid overdoses 
  • Increasing the rates of recycling for construction and demolition waste
  • Predicting and preventing lead poisoning in young children

The capstone presentation was followed by a virtual graduation ceremony opened by Dean Jelena Kovačević, who told graduates, “With the estimation that 70% of the world’s population will live in urban environments by 2050, the work you do is globally significant.”

The ceremony — which featured student speakers Aren Kabarajian and Parth Singhal, as well as alum Martha Norrick, who now works as Chief Analytics Officer and Director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Data Analytics — closed with inspiring words from CUSP director Juan Pablo Bello, who warned graduates that technology is not always the solution to urban challenges; it can, her asserted even be part of the problem if not wielded properly. “But this is where you come in,” he said. “You will bring your vast skills and knowledge to the conversation, and if your capstone projects are any indication, the cities of the future are in good hands.” 

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The winners of CUSP’s 2021 Commencement and Achievement Awards rose to the challenges posed by unprecedented circumstances and went above and beyond to excel academically, support one another, and reflect admirably upon NYU CUSP, the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and the broader NYU community.

Scholastic Award

  • Wanyu Cao
  • Mengyuan Guo
  • John Paul McKay
  • Aleka Raju
  • Dina Wagdy
  • Kendra Singh
  • Yutong Zhu

Promising Researcher Award

  • Aleka Raju

Professional Student Award

  • Asnat Ghebremedhin
  • Samantha Falk
  • Kendra Singh
  • Yanmei Guan
  • Nicholas Liu-Sontag
  • AJ Kuhn
  • Tyler Matteo

Community Building and Leadership Award

  • Aren Kabarajian
  • Tyler Matteo

Commitment to Social Good Award

  • Rachel Provost