Getting Oriented

After a hectic week of events, Tandon’s Fall semester gets underway

A robed student carries a banner at convocation

Students at this year's convocation ceremony officially kick off the academic year

Remember when you were a kid . . .that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you might have gotten each September as school was about to start, the smell of fresh pencils and the heft of a new backpack if you were lucky? The sense that anything was possible?

Now multiply all that by ten, and you wouldn’t even scratch the surface of what it feels like here in Brooklyn as Tandon’s Fall 2022 semester kicks off. Whether you were a first-year undergrad just finding your way around, a grad student joining us from halfway around the world, or an old hand looking forward to taking your final courses, the first week of the academic year was packed with events, information, and fun. (Hats off to the Office of Student Life & Services!)

New Student Orientation

By the numbers

  • Students: 700
  • Pods: 23, ranging from 30 to 50 students each (Fun fact: Each pod was assigned a name based on a Star Wars character)
  • Programs: 49 (and that’s not even counting meals, tours, social outings, or the scavenger hunt!)
  • Campus tours: 20
  • Scavenger hunt locations: 47

The buzz

I am proud that all 23 orientation leaders showed up for all three days of orientation. That’s an incredible commitment. The competitive spirit of the pods during the scavenger hunt was very intense. They were very passionate about winning, and the hunt after-party was well attended. The majority of the students stayed until the very last day and last event of orientation.”

Burnie Du Rant Jr., Assistant Director of Student Engagement

I wanted to be an Orientation Captain because I enjoy meeting new people and creating an environment where people feel comfortable sharing who they are. Having the ability to create a unique experience for all new students is so fun and rewarding. My favorite part of orientation was just getting to know some of the new students and orientation leaders. I think everyone brings something new to the table. It is so exciting to see so many people work together and connect with others.”

–Orientation Captain Carolina Martin (‘24 Computer Science)

When I was an orientation leader, I always liked meeting the new students, but I was a little stressed about keeping my energy up and getting to places on time because I have ADHD. As a captain, I was able to leverage my attention to detail but still got to talk to some students and make connections. In general, working behind the scenes is just more of my vibe. My favorite part of orientation is probably the orientation leaders. This year and last year I just made so many great connections with people. The people who sign up to be orientation leaders are great, and getting to work with them is so much fun. Second favorite though is a tie between Brooklyn Bash (for obvious reasons) and the new student panel (because the questions the new students have and the discussions that ensue are awesome). I won't lie: being paid for working as an orientation captain is also a major perk.

– Orientation Captain Cecily Shultz (‘23 Mechanical Engineering)

New Graduate Student Orientation

By the numbers

  • Students: 1,204
  • Graduate Orientation Leaders: 23
  • Programs: 27 (and that’s not counting meals, tours, or social outings)
  • Graduate Resource Fair: 400+ students
  • Faculty and Student Meet and Greet: 400 students
  • Social Outings: 4, attended by 200 students

The buzz

Being able to host larger scale programs was great! It was so exciting to be able to host the Meet and Greet with faculty and the Grad Resource Fair for the first time since 2019. Seeing all the students together was an awesome moment.”

Mike Burgo, Assistant Director of Student Engagement

When I attended my orientation, the one thing I loved was how new students were able to connect and network with the existing students which can define, upgrade, and as a whole, just refine your entire graduate student experience. I loved that and I wanted to do the same for the other students coming in, a little confused perhaps, maybe not, but as long as I can make their adaptation to here a little easier, I believe I have done well.

Meeting new people was exciting! Even though we are all just grad students here, we have all achieved incredible things and had amazing experiences in the past which helps me learn and know more about the people in this world and just actually make the most of the diversity that NYU brings to us. I loved meeting these new people and now greeting them across the hallways while we have started this new semester!”

– Graduate Orientation Captain Radhika Goyanka - MS, Management of Technology

NYU promises students an all-around development through various on-campus leadership opportunities. I wanted to test my grit and management skills if given the charge of a massive event like orientation, where NYU welcomes around 2000 students annually. My favorite part of the orientation was interacting with the incoming batch, solving their problems, and guiding them through the transition to Grad School. This gave me immense confidence and satisfaction in being helpful to my community.”

– Samaksh Singhal - MS, Cybersecurity

One thing I am pretty sure you will learn in your time here at Tandon is that we are very proud to call this borough our home. We are even more proud of each of you — as individuals and as a cohort that will represent our school every day for the rest of your lives.”

Dean Jelena Kovačević


If this is your first time attending an institution of higher learning, you might never have heard the term convocation before. While it generally means “the act or process of calling an assembly of persons to a meeting,” at Tandon, it refers to that very special ceremony welcoming students to a new semester. (And as first-year students quickly found out, no one does pomp and ceremony quite like NYU. Shout out to the bagpipe players and flag bearers!)

The speakers

It's a pleasure to be addressing you today as you take those first steps down a pathway of hands-on learning and discovery. In many cases, the word journey is quite literal. You hail from all over the country and the world, but whether you arrived here from the other side of the globe or from around the block, the miles you have logged and the experiences you have had to make each of you special, and your individuality and character are important to us. You’re now part of a school that will never require or expect you to merely stay in your own narrow lane. At Tandon, we know that complex problems require complex solutions–and that those solutions often take outside-the-box thinking that breaks down silos and hones in on collaboration across multiple disciplines. We call what you’ll be learning here “unconventional engineering”–delving into areas where different knowledge bases and skill sets come together in novel and innovative ways.

Here you’ll work at the intersections between data science and health, sustainability and AI, cybersecurity and wireless communications . . . really, wherever you choose, and you’ll learn how to move the dial on some of the most pressing problems facing society. Because at the core of it all, engineers are problem-solvers.”

–Dean Jelena Kovačević

This is just the beginning of your journey and you can expect to get lots of information and suggestions as you go through Orientation. Don’t fret; I’m letting you know now that you won’t remember most of it. What I do hope you remember are the faces that greet you and are ready to support you.”

Rose Ampuero, Associate Dean of Student Life & Services and Chief Inclusivity Officer

Everyone on this stage, the faculty and staff at Tandon, we're all here for you. Whatever it is you may want to do, our goal is to help you succeed and find your pathway. We look forward to seeing you walk across the stage at the Barclays Center graduation in four years.”

–Industry Associate Professor Jack Bringardner, Assistant Dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs, Director of the General Engineering Program, Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program

You’re walking a path forged by alumni Leopold Just, who was involved in designing virtually every major bridge in New York City; Jasper Kane, who made it possible to mass-produce penicillin, saving countless lives; and Buddy Ratner, who became known as the father of modern bio-engineering.”

Robert V. Jones, President of the Poly Alumni Association

To all the first—year students sitting in front of me, I may not know you all personally, but I’m so proud of you. The past two years have been challenging, to say the least, but they’re a testament to the strength and conviction you all had in your passion. Whether that be to build a safer community or fix the bumper—to—bumper traffic in New York (which having been a commuter my freshman year would be absolutely fantastic), you all came here with a purpose and that’s something I want you to hold on to.”

–Nawal Panjwani (‘23 Biomolecular Science) Undergraduate Student Council President

Students of Color Welcome

This year’s incoming class has the highest academic prowess of any in Tandon history while at the same time being the most diverse in NYU’s history, with a majority of the class of 2026 identifying as non-white. Making that fact even more impressive is that it happened just as gaining admission to institutions of higher education has gotten monumentally more competitive.

At an event welcoming students of color, Dean Jelena Kovačević asserted: “I have said this before, but it bears repeating: Diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments are not tangential or incidental to excellence but are absolutely integral to it ... Tandon’s commitment to academic and research excellence is equaled only by our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment. Neither happened overnight! They required dedication and hard work, and a desire to make our campus look and feel like the borough and city we call home.”

The leaders of tomorrow are here today

The Global Leaders and Scholars in STEM (GLASS) program went into full swing this year, with three active cohorts, and Dean Jelena Kovačević was there to address them.

“Three years ago, we issued a call-to-arms to our most academically accomplished and motivated students — to paraphrase Peter Parker, aka Spiderman — those students who accepted that along with their degrees came great responsibilities,” she explained. “You all saw engineering as not just a profession, but a calling. And each of you is ready to seriously commit to doing transformational work. ... The seniors among you have proven that GLASS scholars never shy away from a challenge, and you’ve done incredible work. You’ve given the newer cohorts a lot to live up to, and I have no doubt that they will make you — and all of us— proud.”

A spirited introduction

Each year, the Office of Student Life & Services arranges for Chris Woods, the director of the NYU LGBTQ+ Center, to come to Brooklyn to discuss the resources available to Tandon’s LGBTQ+ communities and their allies. The useful information was just one perk of the night, however, with plenty of good food, conversation, and camaraderie on offer as well.

I’m a lifelong New Yorker and appreciate how welcoming and open the city is, and I feel the same way about Tandon; there’s a very warm, diverse community here. I’m part of the student chapter of OSTEM, which is an acronym for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and that’s provided me with so many opportunities for both professional networking .and socializing. I’d really like everyone here to know that if they want to attend the national OSTEM convention, which is being held in Boston in November, the chapter can help!”

–Saoirse Sowell, ME ‘23, OSTEM Program Director

I hope you consider how you can use the incredible and rigorous academic and personal learnings as you pursue a degree at Tandon towards social change, social good, and the betterment of the societies you will transform. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Audre Lorde — who described herself as Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet — 'When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.’ How will you dare to be powerful during your time at NYU?”

–Chris Woods, Director of the NYU LGBTQ+ Center

You want clubs, we’ve got clubs

This year’s Club Fest attracted 1,480 prospective members and featured almost 40 clubs, from the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to Robotics Club and Tau Beta Pi.

Seeing Club Fest back in the Brooklyn Gym this year was incredible. You could feel the energy and excitement from all our students and clubs radiating from the room. We know how important it is for students to find belonging and connection at NYU Tandon and joining a club or VIP is a great place to start! We really hope any students who missed Club Fest will check out everything that our clubs, and clubs across NYU, have to offer on NYU Engage.”

- Brittney Anne Bahlman, Director, Student Leadership & Engagement

A new hub

Tandon’s Ph.D. Hub held its inaugural orientation this year, with Dean Jelena Kovačević, Hub Director Vikram Kapila, and Hub Manager Jamie Lloyd sharing important policies, resources, and strategies for success with 70+ incoming Ph.D. students, followed by a spirited panel discussion with current doctoral candidates Brigid Blakeslee, Sarmad Mehrdad, and Oliver Lei.

Then it was time for some merriment! The following day the Hub hosted a Happy Hour welcome for new and current Ph.D. students, staff, and faculty at Brooklyn’s Circa Brewing Company, where the excitement for the new semester was palpable.

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