Matthew Campisi speaks about his life-saving screening technology over Alumni Weekend
On October 24–27, the city was awash in violet as former students from every quarter converged for the annual festivities known as NYU Alumni Weekend, drawn by chances to reconnect with classmates, attend a variety of programming (including a Broadway show), and hear what’s going on at their alma mater.
For alumni from the School of Engineering, that also meant a chance to meet Jelena Kovačević, who joined NYU Tandon in 2018, becoming the first female dean in its history.
On Saturday, October 26, Kovačević presided over a luncheon, during which she made special mention of the Golden Jubilee honorees in attendance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation. Noting that 1969 had been an especially auspicious year for engineers given the excitement surrounding the moon landing, she reminded everyone that when Neil Armstrong took his historic first steps, it was due in large part to faculty member Thomas Joseph Kelly, who led the team that designed and tested NASA’s first Lunar Module. And while we’re discussing the cosmos, a fellow 1969 Alum, Jacob David Bekenstein, proposed back in 1972 that black holes have entropy, an idea that was subsequently further developed by Stephen Hawking,” she said. “Add in Woodstock and the 1st New York Mets World Series victory, and it amounts to a major group of accomplishments and cultural touchstones that you, members of the class of 1969, were involved with at a very local level.”
She asserted that today the school remains a dynamic and intellectually stimulating place. “We’ve gone from leaders in microwave research to seminal contributors to wireless technology — from being the world center of polymer science to being a hub of modern biomedical engineering,” she explained, touting the fact that this year alone, six young principal investigators from NYU Tandon had garnered prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Awards, meaning that now, fully 50% of its faculty members have held CAREER or other young-investigator honors. “I like to think Professors Herman Mark and Ernst Weber are here with us in spirit, and I imagine they could not be prouder,” she concluded.
Kovačević went on to introduce Matthew Campisi (’96, ‘20), who was being honored as a 2019 NYU Alumni Changemaker for his development of a handheld, battery-powered, radiation-free device used for breast cancer screening. Easily operated by social-health workers serving low-income communities, it has helped more than 175,000 women in countries around the world, to date, and his company, UE LifeSciences, intends to reach millions more in the coming years.
Campisi, as the dean pointed out, is not just an NYU alum; he subsequently returned to Tandon and became a popular Industry Associate Professor. “Matt truly exemplifies the power of engineering to change the world — and the power of an NYU Tandon education,” she said before turning the stage over to him.
In addition to Campisi’s inspiring and informative talk, attendees were treated to a screening of a film documentary tracing the more than 160-year history of the school. Replete with archival footage and interviews, it proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend, but if you missed it, Tandon’s Office of Alumni Relations will be arranging additional showings in advance of the holiday season.
The weekend also included Tandon's Made in Brooklyn Showcase, which highlighted innovative undergraduate projects from our competition andVIP program teams includingConcrete Canoe, Tandon Motorsports, and Robotics Design teams, along with many others.