Showing Some Violet Pride at NYU

Graduates came out in force came out in force to take part in the 2013 NYU Alumni Day festivities on Washington Square.

When new york university president John sexton promised grads that during alumni day, held this year on October 19, they would “hear from some of our out- standing faculty on [their] cutting-edge research,” two professors helped him make good on that pledge: Associate Professor Maurizio Porfiri led a demonstration of the Bio-Mechatronics of a Robotic Fish’s Anatomy, encouraging alumni to control one of his robotic fish with their iPhones, and Professor Vikram Kapila taught the nuts, volts, and bits of robots.

Alums had ample opportunity during the jam-packed day to mingle with their almost 1,400 counterparts from other NYU schools, but the luncheon was a more intimate affair, hosted by NYU Dean of Engineering Katepalli Sreenivasan. During his address, Sreenivasan reminded the guests of the school’s rich history, while encouraging them to look to the future and all the benefits that the merger with NYU is bringing. “Our students and professors are taking ad- vantage of exciting new possibilities for collaborative research, increased course offerings, and study abroad,” he explained, “and we intend to climb steadily in the rankings.” The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, he asserted, was on track to become a world-class institution in the fields of Urban Systems, Information Technology and Media, and Bioengineering, thanks in part to collaborations with Tisch, Steinhardt, Wagner, and other NYU schools.

At the luncheon, during which Professor Kapila treated the alumni to an encore robotics presentation, the Distinguished Alumnus Award was given to Ahmad Rahimian (’80, ’86), the CEO of WSP Cantor Seinuk, a multinational structural-engineering firm. Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on tall buildings, Rahimian is known for his innovative designs for high-rise residential and commercial buildings, as well as sport facilities and special structures. “I am truly honored to be recognized with this award,” Rahimian said. “It is indeed a privilege just to be considered. My years of association with the school, first as a graduate student and then as an adjunct faculty member, has been extremely rewarding beyond my imagination.” He continued, “What made the difference for me was not only the high caliber of the accomplished professors and curriculum, but the tremendous value of what I learned from our genuine one-on-one discussions and collaborations that took place over those years. Particularly, I always cherish my time spent with my doctoral ad- visor, Professor P.C. Wang.”

The previous night, Neil Weiser (’73) had received the Dedicated Alumnus Award, for his service to the Polytechnic Institute Alumni Association (PIAA). Weiser, the vice president of the PIAA, has sat on multiple committees, including those devoted to bylaws and audits. Asked if those assignments might be characterized as thankless, he good-naturedly disagreed. “Bylaws might not sound like the most exciting things in the world,” he said, “but it’s gratifying to be doing something important for the PIAA and for my alma mater.”