Rev up your academic engines

New initiative helps incoming students get a headstart

Group of Students with the Dean

Dean Jelena Kovačević (third from left) with students

NYU Tandon has always attracted bright, motivated students, and this year the school has come up with novel ways to ensure that its newest group of up-and-coming scientists, engineers, and technologists starts classes in the fall revved up and ready. 

They’re allowing incoming students to jumpstart their NYU Tandon experience over the summer before even getting to campus.

“Let’s face it, the first semester in any new academic setting can take some adjustment,” says Vice Dean for Academics and Student Affairs Nasir Memon, who helped spearhead the new initiatives. “Getting started over the summer is going to make that adjustment period much easier.” He points, in particular to the Tandon Summer Scholar program, which offers incoming master’s students the opportunity to take a three-credit summer class remotely — completely free of charge. “Besides the obvious benefit of saving up to $6,000, taking a summer course will lighten your load in the fall so you’ll have extra time to get to know your classmates, explore the city, pursue internship and career options, or indulge your other interests,” Memon says. “You’ll need to hand in a final project or take a final exam upon your arrival in person — you’re not off the hook for that — but this program is really one of the most productive ways I can imagine to spend a summer.”

Undergraduate and graduate students alike can take advantage of Tandon’s summer career academies, which provide an overview of the career services and professional paths available to students at every level, the recruitment timeline for internships and jobs, the employment landscape, and how best to prepare yourself for using what you’ve learned in the classroom in the workplace. “Even a first-year student is going to benefit from having this background,” Associate Dean of Career Services Karine Loriot asserts. “While some might believe it’s premature to think about internships or jobs at this point, it’s really never too early. When the time comes, they’ll be happy to have this knowledge to draw upon, since it will put them solidly ahead of the game.” No one should expect, however, to simply sit back and watch the virtual sessions, she cautions. “This is going to be highly interactive, and you’ll need to participate,” Loriot says, “so be prepared to develop your networking skills, craft an elevator pitch, learn to present yourself professionally, and a lot more.”

The summer shouldn’t be all work and no play, however, and Tandon has made sure there are plenty of virtual mixers and get-acquainted sessions, along with a packed roster of other events. Elizabeth Ensweiler, the Senior Director of Graduate Enrollment and Graduate Admissions, hopes that everyone attends as many as possible. “I get to talk to many admitted students, and they’re telling me that this has been a somewhat stressful and uncertain period,” she says. “But one key to not letting that get the better of you is to surround yourself with a strong community. NYU Tandon has always been committed to providing that sense of community and devoted to providing all the support our incoming students need. We want them to arrive in the fall feeling comfortable and surrounded by potential friends.”

One good way to start this fall with a ready-made team of friends is to take part in another summer initiative: The NYU Tandon Made Challenge, which is being launched with generous support from the Genesis Prize Foundation. During virtual webinars that will start in May 2020, incoming students will be divided into teams and then, in this year’s iteration of the Challenge, will attempt to come up with a marketable solution for a pressing healthcare need, such as remote-controlled equipment that will allow doctors and nurses to provide care without exposing them to viruses like COVID-19 or novel retrofits of existing hardware like elevators and ATM machines that will prevent the spread of surface contagions. At stake are cash prizes and a chance to actually bring your innovation to market. 

Dean Jelena Kovačević explains the derivation of the Challenge’s name: “Our students are incredibly diverse, but there’s a common set of qualities that includes determination, street smarts, entrepreneurship, and a healthy measure of heart they all share and that we cultivate here. We call that being NYU Tandon Made, and we think it describes our students perfectly,” she says. “I’m thrilled we can offer incoming students the chance to get into the Tandon Made spirit as soon as possible, and because these are just some of the ways the school is enhancing the academic environment, you’ll want to stay tuned.”