|Honorees Robert C. Merton '66, left, Cyril M. Harris and Michael J. Attardo, '63, '65, '67.|
At a festive dinner in Low Library Rotunda, the
Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association honored three
distinguished Columbians. More than 350 alumni, faculty, family and
friends gathered to salute the accomplishments of Cyril M. Harris,
Batchelor Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Robert C. Merton
'66, the 1997 Nobel laureate in economics, and Michael J. Attardo '63,
Professor Harris and Dr. Merton, who is the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard Business School, were awarded the Pupin Medal by Columbia University President George Rupp for "service to the nation." Dr. Attardo, general manager of the Microelectronics Division of IBM, received the Alumni Association's Egleston Medal for "distinguished engineering achievement."
The evening was marked by the obvious affection for Columbia Engineering that was evidenced by the awardees. Dr. Harris, who is also professor emeritus of architecture, spoke fondly of his research in 305 Mudd Building, where he spent three years using a specially crafted, two-ton hollow steel sphere to measure the absorption and speed of sound in air as a function of temperature and humidity
Dr. Merton's ties to the University are from birth since his father, the eminent sociologist Robert K. Merton, is a professor here. Even as the younger Merton spoke, he was able to look up from the podium and see his father's office, now located on the second floor of Low, overlooking the Rotunda.
Dr. Attardo, noting that he is a first-generation American, attended Columbia on scholarship, which he termed "a precious gift." "The University gave me much more than just engineering knowledge," he said. "The professors who guided me, especially in my graduate studies, shared their wisdom. They also shared the values of persistence, patience and perseverance. These are qualities that have served me well."