Where are they now?
It’s a question often posed in the pages of celebrity magazines, but at Tandon, our alumni take center stage.
Two years ago, the commencement program read, “Class of 2020! It’s a great name for members of a cohort with distinct visions for the future — with the knowledge and skills to make it happen.” We caught up with a few class members to see where their vision had taken them.
What she said then: My vision is to provide hands-on healthcare to disadvantaged communities, and NYU Tandon provided me with a very practical grounding in biomedical sciences, which has given me a real-world perspective on the medical challenges facing society and how to tackle them.
What’s going on now: I’m working as a medical assistant at a wonderful facility called Comprehensive Pediatrics on Staten Island, where I live, and I’m currently applying for Physician Assistant (PA) programs. PAs are licensed clinicians dedicated to expanding access to care and to transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based practice, so it’s a logical next step for me. I’ll be leveraging all the useful skills I learned at Tandon and making a difference in people’s lives.
What he said then: Inspired by my background as a low-income student, I knew that I wanted to devote myself to improving the lives of those in my community. I had a vision of leveraging my talent in math and science to develop better, more accessible, personalized healthcare. I arrived at Tandon just before the Vertically Integrated Projects program, which brings together multidisciplinary teams to work on meaningful projects and research, began. After its launch, I joined the 3D-Printed Biomedical Devices team, and our project, the MakerBrace, was devoted to supplying custom, low-cost 3D-printed orthotics to young cerebral palsy patients, who tend to outgrow their costly devices so quickly that insurance doesn’t cover them.
What’s going on now: I’m earning a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering, and my focus is on tissue engineering cartilage for the treatment of osteoarthritis. One day we may be able to grow someone an entirely new knee from their own or donor cells, eliminating the need for artificial implants that deteriorate over time and can be problematic for younger patients. It might seem counterintuitive that my undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering, but that actually provides me with an advantage, since body tissues, especially cartilage, are subject to mechanical forces and cells act upon one another on the basis of mechanical as well as chemical principles.
What she said then: My vision is to synthesize information from the dynamic world of Finance to build useful products and strategies.
What’s going on now: By the time I graduated I had my dream job, as a market risk analyst, already lined up, thanks to the Department of Finance and Risk Engineering’s helpful and dedicated career counselor. I started my career at Barclays, and over the last two years I’ve covered multiple asset classes. I was recently promoted to the post of Assistant Vice President of Market Risk. It’s been very exciting! When Tandon invited the Class of 2020 to join the Class of 2022 at the in-person commencement ceremony since we had missed out on ours, I took a lot of pictures in front of the Barclays sign; it seemed like great synergy to be walking across the stage at a venue bearing the name of my incredible employer.
What he said then: My vision is a future in which controlled thermonuclear fusion provides a clean, safe, and sustainable source of energy. In working to recreate how the sun makes energy (the process known as fusion) in a controlled way here on Earth, I’m getting the chance to make a real-world impact. My research could one day lead to an almost unlimited source of power, with no need for fossil fuels and no greenhouse gases to worry about. Tandon stresses using technology to help solve pressing problems, and that’s what I’m on the path to doing.
What’s going on now: In 2021 I was a Fulbright Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany. I’m currently earning my doctoral degree at Princeton and conducting my research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which is the only national lab devoted to plasmas.
My current research focuses on modeling the next generation of magnetic mirror experiments, which are devices used to trap high-temperature plasmas between two strong magnets. Although the mirror concept was abandoned in the ‘90s, recent advances in high temperature superconductors and magnetic mirror stability have shown promise that enough fusion can occur to yield net positive energy or be a significant neutron source. There are many areas in which neutron sources are required — materials research or nuclear medicine, for example — and if I’m successful, this work could one day be commercialized.
What she said then: My master’s degree, combined with my work at NYU IT’s High-Performance Computing group, allowed me to test and develop my resilience and perseverance. I’ve inched closer to realizing my vision of empowering young girls and women to reach their full potential thanks to the opportunities I’ve had to get involved as a course instructor for Tandon’s CrEST (Creativity in Engineering, Science and Technology) program and NYU’s Girls in STEM initiative, both of which strive to empower those historically underrepresented in STEM fields. I also had opportunities to get actively involved in STEM outreach, serving as NYU’s LinkedIn Campus Editor and Women in Data Science Ambassador. All these experiences eventually led me to the Forbes Under 30 Student Scholar Award, as well as the Nutanix Women in Technology scholarship, which gave me a chance to spend time in the company of people who possess a whole other level of higher-order thinking.
What's going on now: The pandemic was rough on many levels, but I did get the chance to teach data science to young women at NYU Courant, which was a bright spot. Currently, I'm working as a Product Manager in the Database Growth & Strategy division of Microsoft Azure. My role is multifaceted — it is extremely data-driven and I’ve had a chance to work on insights, analysis, and strategies that govern all the products of the Azure database (the cloud database division of Microsoft, which brings in a revenue of more than $15 billion annually). It's an exciting and challenging position, and it's an honor to work on revolutionary products that are even older than I am. Microsoft is one of the few companies that has managed to innovate continuously over its 45+ years of existence and getting to learn from people who’ve been here for a long time is an absolute privilege.
I’m actively involved in the company's Women's Personal Finance group, where I get an opportunity to teach about financial literacy and best practices to women who are immigrants and in early career stages just like me.
I was able to make it to the Barclays Center to participate in the 2022 commencement, which was truly thrilling. One great surprise is that I appeared in Tandon's social media posts in the lead-up to the ceremony and on the Jumbotron; that was an honor!
What he said then: My ultimate goal is to be able to help people with the knowledge I’ve acquired. The friends I’ve met at Tandon share those same values and ideals, and they continually inspire me to keep pursuing my vision.
What’s going on now: Graduating in the middle of a pandemic posed some problems; many friends from other countries left Brooklyn at the start of the crisis, and COVID-19, coupled with unrest in my native Kazakhstan, meant that I was not able to see my family until just recently.
A bright spot is that soon after graduation I was offered a remote job with a Long Island-based based start-up called Graphene Laboratories. As part of a start-up I’m getting to be involved in areas I hadn’t focused on before, like hiring and managing teams. I’m enjoying the chance to influence company culture from the ground up, and I may end up returning to school for an advanced degree in industrial engineering or business management.
Last year, the theme for the virtual commencement ceremony was the “Unconventional Engineer,” and we asked graduates how they were thinking outside the box to redefine themselves and their fields.
What he said then: To understand how engineering is being redefined, just look at the name of my academic department at NYU Tandon: Electrical and Computer Engineering. From that alone, you can surmise how modern electrical engineering has grown and changed. The EE space has evolved to leverage the profound capabilities of modern computing power, so the modern Electrical Engineer not only has to understand electromagnetic fundamentals like our 20 th -century forefathers, but also needs to be able to compose elegant and efficient code to train a Machine Learning model or program the control module of your new EV.
As a power engineer, I’m particularly interested in sustainability initiatives, like wireless power transfer for electric-vehicle applications, and I’m also exploring the use of artificial intelligence in the control of electrical systems, which has the potential to be both quicker and less costly.
What’s going on now: I remained at NYU to earn a Ph.D., and the very first thing I should report is that I recently passed the qualifying exam required after the first year of doctoral studies. That’s an enormous relief because preparing for that exam sometimes feels as though you’re walking a tightrope and a strong gust of wind could knock you right off. More excitingly, I am pleased to announce that I'm currently doing my first internship in the U.S., in the Power Electronics Division of GE's Global Research Center (GRC), which is located in Electric City (Schenectady), New York.
Concurrently, I’m involved in an ongoing project with the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Lucia, where I’m from. It’s an island nation, and agriculture is the main industry. They’re exploring aquaponics, which is a system in which plants and fish are raised symbiotically, and I’m developing the needed sensors to remotely monitor temperature, PH, and other factors.
What he said then: As a teenager I developed a core curriculum for introductory courses in video and television production and helped instructors implement technology-based initiatives, so I arrived at Tandon with an interest in educational technology that I was able to hone here. I’ve come to see the importance of engineering small, practical solutions when they apply: not everything has to be flashy.
What’s going on now: I stayed on at Tandon to earn a master’s degree in Integrated Design & Media because the world needs people grounded in those topics. I’m now a Learning Experience Designer at Slack, a company whose productivity and team communications software is very popular. I managed instructional technology efforts for 50 NYU faculty members during the pandemic, and I’m still involved in education, in a different realm.
What she said then: Engineers are creative, innovative people; in part, that’s why it’s been so interesting studying design and media in an engineering school setting. There’s not a strict divide between tech skills and artistic skills — it’s very possible to work at the intersection. The whole point of a program like IDM is to merge artistic inquiry with scientific research and technological practice. It’s why we don’t just learn to code in order to build software; we consider coding a creative activity and code a creative medium. And even if you’re purely a computer scientist or software developer, it can be interesting to keep in mind all the creative avenues your skills can open up for you.
What’s going on now: I am continuing my education at Tandon to earn a master’s degree in Management of Technology. I envision keeping a foot in both worlds — working, for example, in the innovation or marketing arm of a tech firm. Right now, in addition to my classes, I’m working at Wilder World, a company that is building an immersive 5D metaverse. As their Social Media Marketing Manager, it’s a fascinating area to communicate technological content ranging from education on web3, philosophical thoughts on NFTs, the engineering behind 3D modeling, and more.
As I advance from my graduate studies, I’ll always keep the importance of sustainability and accessibility, which I learned about throughout my time at Tandon, in mind, and will incorporate them into my future opportunities.
What she said then: I had more formative experiences at Tandon than I could possibly list. I took part in a Design for America project and got to work abroad in Japan, and I was on a team that competed in the Forbes Idea Incubator. I’m a first-generation college student, so I had to work, and I was lucky enough to get a job as a TA in the MakerSpace, which showed me how satisfying it is to mentor others in STEM. I also served as a TA in ENG 1001 because I realized that the courses I took freshman year taught me to think like an engineer and introduced me to how expansive the discipline is. (I should also mention my internship at Boeing, because learning how airplanes are built is obviously a very cool thing.)
What’s going on now: I’m a manufacturing design engineer at Apple, where I work on the exterior enclosures of Mac products. That means when a new product is first conceived of, I work with a team to figure out how we can make it. How can we do that in a sustainable, scalable way? Will it be accessible to the differently abled and affordable? How can we ensure the quality? Tandon prepared me very well for the job.
I’m based in the Bay Area, so I’m able to hike and participate in outdoor activities frequently, but I do miss Brooklyn and the people I met there. When my class was invited to participate in the in-person 2022 commencement ceremony, I flew all the way back to be there.
A 2018 alum weighs in
When she graduated: At an engineering school, technical skills are obviously a major focus, but at Tandon, I also had the benefit of NYU's multicultural community, which is just as important and valuable.
What's going on now: I currently work as a Product Manager at Warner Bros. Discovery. I handle the HBO GO and HBO MAX video player experience for the Southeast Asia region. While my experiences in the streaming industry were instrumental to my role, my time at Tandon provided an international lens in strategizing, designing, and building features that address global user needs.