Sahir Jaggi
Sophomore
Biomedical Engineering
Sahir Jaggi shows mockups of an application he is designing, one of the small projects he and his friends are working on outside of coursework.

Hailing from Upstate New York, Sahir Jaggi knew he wanted his college experience to include an urban environment with a free enterprise edge, but he also craved more.

“I’m very interested in start-ups and entrepreneurship. I’m able to learn engineering-related subjects in school, and the best way for me to learn business-related things is in an environment outside of the classroom,” says Jaggi, a biomedical engineering sophomore.

Jaggi found his entrepreneurship stride early on at Columbia. During his first month, he was introduced to Engineering School Dean Mary Boyce during a dinner where they began discussing the new Columbia Makerspace, a physical working area where students can bring their coding, programming, and creative DIY ideas to life while working in a collaborative environment. Jaggi quickly became the student lead on the project and delved right in by first surveying students about their interest level.

He soon spearheaded the student movement around everything from safety to logistics and supplies. There’s now a student council that oversees Makerspace, which opened this semester.

“Beyond resources for projects, the Makerspace provides an environment that is conducive to collaboration, hands-on learning, experimentation, and a place open to everyone, regardless of academic standing or discipline,” he says.

In addition to his help on the Makerspace and his classroom and research endeavors, Jaggi is also working steadily on a first-year pre-orientation program that will be tailored to students interested in entrepreneurship. With a target launch of summer 2015 for the Class of 2019, the idea behind the program is to serve as a crash course in entrepreneurship and the New York start-up scene.

“We hope to enable students to explore their entrepreneurial interests from day one and, if they’re so inclined, help them stay on track with their progress,” he says.

Jaggi’s own go-getter attitude showed through even before he stepped foot on campus.

“I really wanted to go to a place where the course load and class style wouldn’t force me to focus only in one specific area but would allow me to take classes in, and even minor in, a few very different disciplines. Everything I knew I would find at Columbia I’ve found here,” he says.

Since he’s continually being exposed to various subjects through his course work at Columbia, such as biomedical and electrical engineering, computer science, architecture, and statistics, Jaggi said he’s curious to learn more about the actual applications of the projects he works on. To that end, even before arriving for his first year at Engineering, Jaggi secured himself a research assistant spot in the Sia Lab, run by Samuel Sia, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a faculty entrepreneur. Jaggi noted that his three-year high school stint in a lab gave him the basic skills necessary to work in the Sia Lab, which focuses on molecular and microscale bioengineering.

“I am very excited and motivated by Dr. Sia’s philosophy, his approach to research, and his work in general,” Jaggi says. “He has a close affinity to entrepreneurship as well and has opened my eyes to what engineering really can do.”

Jaggi’s own enthusiasm seems to be on the right track for long-term engineering entrepreneurship success.

—by Janet Haney