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Fall 2001


In This Issue:

Annual Fund Climbs

Welcome, Class of 2003

Society of Columbia Graduates Names Great Teacher

Whitaker Foundation Grant to Biomedical Engineering

Distaff Side of Volunteerism

Alumni Briefs

Reunion 1999

The Distaff Side of the Alumni Association


Anna Longobardo '49, '52, seated left, Carolyn Straus Meckler
'84, '87, and Sue Finkelstein '62, standing, at The Faculty
House prior to a Board of Managers meeting.


What do the owner of a construction company and a patent attorney have in common? They, and four other impressive women, are members of the Board of Managers of the Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association! Spanning more than 50 years of Columbia engineering education, these women have followed different career paths but all are "leading ladies" of the Alumni Association.

The doyenne of the group is Anna Longobardo '49, '52, past president of the Alumni Association and the University-wide Alumni Federation, former chair of the School's Engineering Council and a Trustee Emerita of the University. Mrs. Longobardo, who received the Egleston Medal for distinguished engineering achievement, was an engineering executive at Unisys, responsible for more than 100 locations worldwide, setting standards for managing large, complex global organizations. She was a founding member of the Society of Women Engineers in 1949.

Anna chose Engineering because "I was super in math and science and my family attitude was that you were expected to achieve all that you could. My uncle was a professor of engineering at NYU so that might have influenced me."

Sue Finkelstein '62, the Alumni Association's treasurer for six years and now a Board member, majored in civil engineering but quickly focused on computers. "Professor Stillers decided that computers were the coming thing and so we took a one-credit required course on computers, and I got hooked."

After many years at IBM leading a development team for on-line inquiry and registration systems and services, Ms. Finkelstein is now responsible for software development at the New York City Department of City Planning's Geographic System Section. Sue chose Engineering because "it was the logical thing to do if I wanted to earn a living."

Carolyn Straus Meckler '84, '87, Vice President for Alumni Relations for the Alumni Association, is senior industrial engineer for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, responsible for managing facility and process improvements at Pfizer locations worldwide. Carolyn "just took a chance on Engineering. Once I got into it, I really liked it. In retrospect, it was good training for working in a male-dominated industry."

Lee-En Chung '88

Lee-En Chung, P.E. and Marylee Jenkins, both Board members, graduated in 1988. After working as a project engineer for The George Hyman Construction Company, Ms. Chung founded her own construction company, Ivy Ventures, Inc., in Sarasota, FL in 1992 and has developed Whispering Crane, a 37-home subdivision in Sarasota. Ms. Chung, a licensed general contractor and registered professional engineer, was appointed in September to the Construction Industry Licensing Board by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Lee-En grew into her career: "My mother was an architect and my father is a civil engineer, so I grew up in the world of construction visiting job sites. The choice of becoming an engineer seemed to be a natural one." Is it difficult? Yes, but "I think I'm a successful builder because I am a woman. I can show compassion and it's OK."

Marylee Jenkins '88

Marylee, a partner in the New York firm of Robin, Blecker & Daley, is a registered patent attorney and specializes in computer law and intellectual property issues involving the Internet and New Media. She chose law school over a master's program in mechanical engineering, "a difficult decision" she admits, but "I love what I do. I get to see all the latest technology and to be creative with technology in ways that protect it and protect those who develop it." Particularly with respect to Internet concerns, she represents the American Bar Association's Intellectual Property Law Section to the Intellectual Property Constituency of ICANN and before the U.S. Department of Commerce on domain name issues.

And her engineering education? "My specialty remains a male bastion. When I say I am a patent attorney with an electrical/mechanical technical background, they are surprised. They usually assume I am a trademark attorney, which requires no technical background."

Kelly Lenz '97

The youngest member of the Board of Managers is Kelly Lenz '97, a biomedical engineering graduate who hopes to attend medical school. She is project coordinator for a New York City Department of Health research project to assess details of pediatric fatalities. She works out of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Kelly never expected to be a practicing engineer. "I just knew I wanted to have the background of an engineer and to be able to think like an engineer," she said. "Being one of only a few women helped me because I am not easily intimidated."

Kelly summed it up: "The good part about Columbia is that it is a microcosm of the real world. It has every social class, every ethnic group. You can't make a blanket statement. You have to defend your position and articulate it well. Columbia has an enormous group of students willing to engage in intellectual discussion and debates. You just don't find that in strictly engineering schools."


 

 

 

 

 

 

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