The Cooper Union
The Cooper Union-Theknowledgereview

Through outstanding academic programs in architecture, art and engineering, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art prepares talented students to make enlightened contributions to society.

Founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, industrialist and philanthropist, The Cooper Union offers public programs for the civic, cultural and practicable enrichment of New York City.

The Cooper Union’s Albert Nerken School of Engineering provides a rigorous and progressive education to its students. Engineering is fundamentally about solving problems, and Cooper gives its students the tools and skills to do so. The school has multiple K-12 STEM outreach programs designed to meet the needs of underrepresented students while introducing them to science-related fields. These programs include Summer STEM, a six-week program for high school sophomores and juniors in which students work in teams to solve an engineering problem while learning presentation and writing skills (the program has been running for over 25 years); STEM Saturdays, a 10-week, tuition-free program held twice during the school year that teaches high school students basic engineering concepts; STEM Days, one-day science workshops provided free of charge for fourth through twelfth graders; and High School Inventors, in which students from two nearby New York City high schools are immersed in a rigorous, hands-on engineering project.

Additionally, Cooper Union undergraduates teach within many of these K-12 programs and act as mentors for the younger students to encourage interest in STEM subjects. The Cooper Union continues to represent the cutting edge in the development of STEM higher education.

The Cooper Union: “Education is the Key to Civic Virtue and Harmony”

Cooper Union is committed to excellence and brings together motivated and bright students, nurturing and developing their talents while encouraging them to excel and learn at the highest levels. Degree programs are designed to prepare students to enter the workplace immediately after graduation or to pursue graduate study.

  • Cooper Union’s Albert Nerken School of Engineering maintains high standards and requires 135 credits to matriculate. This school is one of three schools that comprise The Cooper Union; the others are the School of Art and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.
  • The faculty at The Cooper Union instills students with the desire and the ability to use their engineering background to fulfill their potential as knowledgeable, creative, and responsible makers, thinkers, doers, and leaders in society.
  • An extraordinary number of their engineering graduates go on to earn Ph.D. degrees at the nation’s most prestigious graduate schools. Others go on to study in fields such as medicine, law, or business. Many graduates rise to leadership positions in industry, education, and government.
  • Unlike most other schools where students select a major in their sophomore year, Cooper’s engineering students apply directly to one of the bachelor of engineering (B.E.) degree programs offered; these are chemical, civil, electrical engineering, and mechanical.
  • Cooper Union students are encouraged to pursue internships and, typically, will finish at least two internships before graduation. The Center for Career Development helps prepare students to transition successfully from their undergraduate degree to either an advanced degree or to their professional career.
  • A popular event hosted by the college is the Annual Student Exhibition that transforms the halls, labs, and studios into exhibition space and allows students to showcase their research and engineering projects. The Cooper Union’s student organizations, such as Society of Women Engineers, SHPE, and major professional societies, also host regular networking events and discussions.
  • The Cooper Union has built creative partnerships with larger and foreign institutions so students have exposure to research, career opportunities and experiences beyond the in-house resources. Scholars are regularly recruited by major national and international corporations, such as Bloomberg, SpaceX, Google, Ford Motor Company, Raytheon, and more.

Cooper Union Alumni

Alumni of The Cooper Union span professions, continents and generations. Nina Tandon graduated from the electrical engineering program in 2001. Today, she is the CEO and co-founder of EpiBone, “the world’s first company growing bones for skeletal reconstruction.”  Also, another eminent alumnus The Cooper Union is proud of is Patty Jenkins, a 1993 graduate of the School of Art. She directed the blockbuster superhero movie Wonder Woman.

Michael Doret’s (A’67) fifty-year career work has included logos like the one he did for the New York Knicks, album covers like KISS’ “Rock and Roll Over” (1976) and various graphics, like multiple covers for Time magazine.  A designer and illustrator who graduated from the School of Art in 1951, Seymour Chwast has created countless illustrations, posters, advertisements and corporate graphics and authored books and typefaces in his storied career. For his storied career, he was named to the Art Directors Hall of Fame and received an AIGA Medal from the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Other notables include Dr. Russell Hulse, a 1993 Nobel Prize for Physics winner, Stanley Lapidus who invented screening techniques for the early detection of colon and uterus cancer, and Marissa Lago, who is Director of the New York City Department of City Planning.

About The Cooper Union’s First Woman President

Laura Sparks became President of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on January 4, 2017. She is the thirteenth president of the institution, and the first woman in the role.

Sparks is a leader in the field of community-focused philanthropy. Previously she served as the Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation. At the leading philanthropy with an endowment greater than $2 billion, she was responsible for numerous initiatives addressing social and environmental challenges in America’s fifth largest city and for designing programs in education, public space, the arts and the environment. Under her guidance, the foundation launched and refined new strategic priorities, focusing its $115 million grant budget on improvements in urban education for economically disadvantaged children, protection of the water resources serving 15 million people across four states, development of world-class urban parks and trails in underserved communities and cultivation of a vibrant cultural sector. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Sparks holds an M.B.A. and a J.D. with honors from the University of Pennsylvania.

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