One year at Cornell can lead to a lifetime of memories – and a fulfilling career – according to attendees at the inaugural M.Eng. Reunion Reception, which brought together more than 75 alumni with a Master of Engineering degree on June 10 in Upson Hall Lounge.
The M.Eng. is a 30-credit, industry-focused professional degree that is typically completed in two semesters, and includes elective coursework, professional development opportunities, and a design project.
The reunion event was organized amid the One M.Eng. campaign, which seeks to synergize the degree’s programming – Cornell offers degree options in over a dozen engineering and science fields – and unify its students and alumni who reside all over the world.
“The best part of reunion was seeing my friends, but it was also fun to meet M.Eng. alumni from different years and hear what they are doing now,” said Sarah Gaylord ’18, M.Eng. ’18, who credited her M.Eng. education for equipping her with the skills to excel in her current position as a research and development engineer at Olympus, a medical technology company. “The program provided a very solid view into the process of planning and developing a new biomedical device, from understanding the user's needs all the way to prototyping and testing.”
The M.Eng. reception, which included catered food, music and dancing, was one of the largest engineering events during Cornell Reunion. Alumni from six different decades, dating back to when the M.Eng. degree was founded in the 1960s, mingled and shared insights from their respective industries.
Attendees included Renee Tozer ’03, M.Eng. ’04, a design engineering manager at Bluefors Cryocooler Technologies, which specializes in cryogen-free refrigerator systems for applications such as quantum computing; Thomas Owens ’83, M.Eng. ’84, MBA ’01, a Motorola engineer turned fighter pilot, who recently retired as a major general with the New York Air National Guard; and Peter Birdsall ’98, M.Eng. ’99, senior director of emerging platforms engineering for network streaming at Paramount, who said his M.Eng. degree helped distinguish him from other job candidates after graduating.
“Further into my career, I found the fundamentals of engineering management taught that year to be essential background for me as I transitioned into those sorts of roles,” said Birdsall, who studied computer science at Cornell. “That year was a special time, one that served as the capstone to my college educational career while simultaneously letting me experience a decent approximation of what a career in this field would be like.”
Carol Sunada-Wong, M.Eng. ’93, said her degree prepared her to work on a wide variety of projects across the telecom and electric power industries, as well as the value of collaborating with colleagues and clients.
“I was so excited about the inaugural M.Eng. reunion and look forward to future alumni gatherings. I reconnected with one classmate whom I hadn't seen in decades and made a few new connections. It was a wonderful time,” said Sunada-Wong, who is now an independent solar performance modeler who uses simulation tools to quantify power generation for commercial scale projects.
“Our M.Eng. alumni are amazing,” said Kathryn Caggiano, M.Eng. program director and a professor of practice in operations research and information engineering. “They are exceptional problem solvers and leaders who have had a positive impact in so many different fields. It was palpable at the reunion reception that, across decades and domains, they all share a transformative experience and a lasting connection to Cornell through the M.Eng. program.”
Caggiano will succeed professor Yong Joo as the associate dean of M.Eng. programs in July. Both leaders gave remarks at the reunion event, sharing program successes and future plans, which include more distance learning and expanding support services. They also touted how alumni are playing an important role in the growth of the program.
“Our M.Eng. programs thrive, in part, because engaged alumni pay it forward with their valuable time, experience, and connections, helping our M.Eng. students develop their professional potential,” Caggiano said.