by Timothy P. Cross

More than 300 alumni returned to New York for Columbia Engineering Reunion Weekend, May 28 to 31. This included an amazing turnout from the Class of 2010, which was celebrating its fifth reunion; 139 classmates attended Reunion Weekend, nearly one third of the class. Reunion provides an opportunity for alumni to connect with old classmates as well as with friends from the College, Barnard, and the School of General Studies, which also celebrated their reunions over the weekend.

Festivities kicked off on Thursday, May 28, when 280 alumni, their guests, and administrators gathered in Low Rotunda for the annual Alumni Welcome Dinner sponsored by the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association (CEAA). The annual event also serves as the CEAA’s awards ceremony.

This year, the CEAA honored three distinguished Columbians: Richard Axel ’67CC, Nobel laureate, neuroscientist, and University Professor, with the Michael I. Pupin Medal; Donald E. Ross ’52CC, BS’53, a mechanical and electrical engineering leader, with the Thomas Egleston Medal; and Ehud Geller BS’70, a pioneering biotech entrepreneur, with the Samuel Johnson Medal.

Dean Mary C. Boyce praised the three honorees as representing “the best that Columbia has to offer.” She said, “Their contributions to their professions and to society at large demonstrate the positive impact that science, technology, and engineering have in today’s world.”

On Friday, reunion-goers chose from a set of morning lectures, including one given by Mike Massimino BS’84, a former NASA astronaut and now a professor of professional practice at SEAS, who talked about his two space missions to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The departmental luncheon in Casa Italiana gave alumni a chance to hear from Dean Boyce, view a video from the School’s second Senior Design Expo, and meet with faculty members and fellow alumni from each of the School’s nine departments. In the afternoon, Mechanical Engineering Professor Sunil Agrawal discussed his research in using robots to aid in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

In the evening, the School, the College, and Barnard cohosted the annual Young Alumni Party at State 48 in midtown Manhattan. Dean Boyce joined the Class of 1965 as they were inducted into the School’s Golden Lions Society (for alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago) at a dinner at the Russian Tea Room. Meanwhile, other classes met for multischool receptions on campus and around Manhattan.

Boyce hosted the School’s annual Dean’s Day breakfast on Saturday morning. Outgoing CEAA President Hitoshi Tanaka led the nearly 100 assembled guests in the annual toast to CEAA benefactor C. P. Davis. The dean presented an overview of events at the School during the past year and showed a video from the MakeCU spring hackathon.

Later that morning Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Professor Patricia Culligan discussed “Greening New York City to Promote Sustainability” as the Society of Columbia Graduates Great Teacher Lecture. At lunch, the Society of Columbia Graduates honored Culligan and Brent Stockwell, professor of biological sciences and chemistry, with the Great Teacher Awards. Following an afternoon of lectures, films, receptions, tours, and a wine tasting, alumni gathered for class dinners before coming together on Low Plaza for the annual Starlight Reception on Saturday night.

For information on Reunion Weekend 2016, for graduates of classes ending in “1” or “6,” alumni should visit the Columbia Engineering alumni website in the coming months!