Class Day 2009

Click image to watch photo gallery of Class Day 2009


Class Day speaker and alumnus James F. Albaugh ’74 MS reflected on his time at Columbia University as he addressed graduates and their families and friends Monday.

Albaugh, the executive vice president at The Boeing Company, said he intended to put his Civil Engineering degree to use building bridges.

“But I hadn’t done my research. After I graduated, I found that all the good dam sites were already taken, so I became a rocket scientist instead. Of course, it turns out that rocket science and dams have a lot in common.”

Albaugh expressed confidence the graduates before him would be able to adapt to the challenges ahead of them.

“I know that the graduates here today will create solutions to some of the most pressing needs of our time. I’m of a generation that was inspired by Sputnik and the “call to arms” to enter and win the space race. It was a generation that built mighty spaceships to go to the moon and explore the universe.

“Yours is a generation that must use your engineering skills to rebuild – and, yes, to save – the Spaceship we are all on together... our planet Earth.’

A total of 362 undergraduates and 246 graduate students earned degrees this term. Nine students and five faculty members and received awards during the ceremony.

Student Awards:

  • Scholar Athlete Award – Jonathan Chen
  • Student Activities Award – Lauren Minches
  • Campus Life Leadership Award – Kimberly Morgan Manis, Maritza Terese Harper and Joanne Michelle Rispoli
  • Constantino Colombo Outstanding Leadership Service Award – Brian Anthony Smith
  • The Thomas “Pop” Harrington Medal and The Charles Krandel Award – Peter Henry Valeiras
  • The George Vincent Wendell Memorial Medal – Michael Fu
  • The Illig Medal – John Michael Sienkiewicz

Faculty Awards:

  • The Kim Award for Faculty Involvement – David E. Keyes, professor of applied mathematics
  • The Janette and Armen Avanessians Diversity Award – Y. Lawrence Yao, professor and department chair mechanical engineering
  • The Rodriguez Family Junior Faculty Development Award – Jose Blanchet, assistant professor of industrial engineering and operations research
  • Distinguished Faculty Teaching Awards (given by the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association) – Julia B. Hirschberg, professor of computer science, and David D. Yao, professor of industrial engineering and operations research
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