Program Notes: Graduate Alumni

APPLIED PHYSICS AND APPLIED MATHEMATICS
Shantikumar Nair MS’78, PhD’83 writes, “I am now the dean of research at Amrita University, the highest-ranked private university in India by Times Higher Education. I moved to Amrita University in 2006, before which I was an associate professor at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA. I am also director of the Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine at the University’s Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. Recently I was invited to give a talk at the UNAI-START (United Nations Academic Impact–Science and Technology Accelerating Rapid Transformation) conference, on the role of nanotechnology in developing new solutions for energy, water, and health care—problems reaching crisis proportion in our world and requiring urgent action across all levels. I was also recently awarded the prestigious Professor C. N. R. Rao Award for outstanding contributions in the field of nanotechnology.”

Top to bottom: Shantikumar Nair MS’78, PhD’83 after speaking at the United Nations; Artwork by Amy Moselhi MS’06; Alexei Masterov MS’07; Suzanne (Young) Bell MS’82

BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING
Jules Scogna MS’13 writes, “After graduating with my master’s in biomedical engineering, I went directly to work at Bigelow Aerospace in Las Vegas, NV, as a mechanical engineer. It was a fantastic opportunity and one I never could have gotten without the experience I gained at Columbia. Both coursework and hands-on experience in the biomed machine shop were key to getting a great offer. I worked on a range of challenges in the private space industry, particularly multiple inflatable orbital habitats for both NASA and private use. The BEAM module, for which I designed systems including valves, deployment mechanisms, and soft goods layers, is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX CRS-8 in March. I also developed state-of-the-art carbon dioxide removal systems with regenerative molecular sieve technology for the BA330 program, aiming for a self-sustainable, inflatable craft for six astronauts.

In August of 2015 I started at Blue Origin, a privately funded aerospace company focusing on suborbital and orbital reusable rockets. I am a mechanical engineer in the Fluid Systems Design group currently designing valve systems used on our new Shepard suborbital rocket. This valve system must operate in extreme environments down to cryogenic liquid oxygen and hydrogen temperatures, yet close and seal leak tight in 500 milliseconds. On November 23, Blue Origin’s New Shepard became the first rocket to travel to space and land back on Earth. It is nearly impossible to put that day into words; it is something I will never forget. Landing a rocket is incredibly difficult, and, even having recently started, I was on console running the new heat exchange system with launch operations and mission control. Watching the rocket land was truly a life-changing event, and my small part is something I will cherish forever.”

CIVIL ENGINEERING AND ENGINEERING MECHANICS
Amy Moselhi MS’06 writes, “Since graduating, I have been working in the construction management of heavy civil engineering projects in New York City. At Tully Construction I managed a portfolio in excess of $100 million as the project manager of the East Side River Parks Project, DSNY 56th Street Garage, New York Police Academy site work, the Cannon Place retaining wall replacement project, and many more. After an eight-year tenure at Tully, I moved to United Structure Solution Inc. in March of 2015 as their CEO. This was a very exciting opportunity to lead a minority MWBE/DBE firm that specializes in high-end architectural and ornamental iron work. USS Group is a full-service union contractor with a 13,000-square-foot fabrication shop in East Williamsburg. Our labor force has been widely recognized on many public projects for its exceptionally good workmanship and attention to detail. We are thrilled to have been involved in the Transportation Hub, Croton Water Treatment Plant, 63rd Street subway, 7 line, NYPA facility in Queens, 99 Church Street, Delta terminal at LGA, Tower 4, Liberty Park, Old Westbury, Stony Brook University, Newtown Creek, and much more. Our group of engineers ensure that the project is successfully delivered and are available to meet and brainstorm on issues that come up during the construction process. USS Group (unitedstructuresolution.com) is also committed to helping young tenacious engineers prosper. Recently we hired a wonderful new Columbia grad with an OPT from her F1 visa.

Over the years, I have on multiple occasions taught individual lectures about project management and engineering and have, on two occasions, spoken about women and minorities in construction on campus at events organized by student organizations. As a graduate, I am always eager to motivate young minds at Columbia and remain open to helping any of those who contact me through LinkedIn. Many have asked for guidance developing their CV and for connections for professional networking.

As a hobby I have continued to follow my passion for art and have been published! My gallery can be seen at www.moselhigallery.com.”

COMPUTER SCIENCE
Alexei Masterov MS’07 writes, “For the past five and a half years, I’ve worked at Google, in the capacity of a product manager (among other things), and I’ve helped a very talented team of computer vision researchers, scientists, and engineers launch personal photos annotation, enabling people to search through their personal photos for the first time. Try searching for “me and [your spouses name] on the beach” on photos.google.com and you’ll be amazed at the quality of the result.”

Vinay Sharma MS’10 writes, “2015 was a year of changes in both my careers as an engineer and an artist. After nearly five years of working as a graphics hardware engineer at Intel I decided it was time for a change, and I recently transitioned within Intel to the PCH group as a SOC Engineer. New challenges ahead and lots of learning to come, I am sure. I am excited with this new role and looking forward to working with a team of smart engineers. In my art career, exciting things happened last year. I worked on collaborative projects and shows with renowned Sacramento artist Taylor Gutermute, and also became one of the top 109 printmakers in the country to be featured in a national-level printmaking show—the North American Print Biennial 2015, held by the Boston Printmakers Society. My work was featured on the cover page of the catalog too. It’s been a great achievement for me, as 1,981 entries were received from 699 artists across 49 states. On a personal front, I took a trip to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for an art retreat this year, and it was a life-changing experience creating art on the stomping grounds of the immortal Georgia O’Keeffe. The sights and sounds that the land of enchantment brought me were inspiring, as were the words of Georgia O’Keeffe: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Last but not least, I would like to thank my parents and faculty at Columbia because of whom I spent a brilliant academic year in New York City that made me the person I am today.”

John Terzis MS’15 has been using his machine learning degree and interest in all things big data to build and manage a multi-node Hadoop cluster that performs quantitative analysis on large streams of log and time series data for a distressed asset private equity firm. He’s been living in Scottsdale, AZ, which offers a fledgling tech scene and excellent lifestyle, in his opinion, for engineers who want to attain the elusive work lifestyle balance that Silicon Valley is lacking. When he’s not tinkering with some Deep Learning library, he’s been hiking, playing tennis, going on road trips, and exercising his dog, Dennis.

EARTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING
Alan Shapiro MS’14 writes, “In the last year, I’ve been active in building a Columbia alumni community in Western Canada, both on the coast in Vancouver, BC, and further inland in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. I continue to work as a geoscientist for PGL Environmental Consultants in Vancouver and have been involved in a wide range of real estate development, government, First Nations, and industry projects.”

Suzanne (Young) Bell MS’82 writes, “After three years working as a research engineer following my time at Columbia, I went to Stanford Law School to become a technology and IP lawyer and have been practicing law in Silicon Valley ever since at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (partner since 1996). I have maintained my ties to Columbia, including serving on the Board of Visitors under Dean Galil a number of years ago. And, I am happy to report that my youngest daughter (I have three daughters) is now at Columbia Engineering as a first year—class of 2019!”

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
Pamir Ozbay MS’10 writes, “After practicing engineering for six years, I’ve decided to join the dark side by becoming an MBA student at London Business School. I never thought I would be studying for finals again in my late 20s, but here I am!”

INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING AND OPERATIONS RESEARCH
Aik-Ping Ng MS’03 writes, “I just moved to Hong Kong for a new experience after living in Beijing for the past seven years. Apart from work, I’m spending my free time working on a book project. It’s a slow and laborious process, but definitely highly rewarding and therapeutic. I’ll be sure to update all of you if and when I get to the finish line!”

Rami Rahal MS’09 was recently named one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” venture capitalists making major impact on their field. He is cofounder and general partner at Blue Cloud Ventures, a New York–based growth-stage firm focused on software-as-a-service companies. After helping raise more than $65 million, Rami has invested in 16 promising endeavors, with two major exits so far from his first fund.