Interacting on the Intercoastal

When they took a group of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering alumni on a Delray Yacht Cruise sightseeing trip down the Intercoastal Waterway in February 2014, the crew on board the Lady Atlantic could not have been more professional or accommodating. The narration was informative and the weather was ideal. The cruise was followed by lunch at 50 Ocean, an elegant restaurant overlooking Delray Beach, where alumni and their guests enjoyed a tasty meal, skillfully prepared and artfully served. But while the group unquestionably appreciated the cruising and dining, its members had also convened for a more serious purpose: to discuss the state of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education in Florida and to brainstorm about ways in which they could help.

Vikram Kapila, a professor of mechanical engineering who is deeply involved in the school’s K-12 STEM initiatives, gave a presentation about the need for classroom volunteers and the teacher-training programs he adminstrators. This had alumni excited about the possibilities. Jay Bluestein (’66EE), who helped Mel Weinzimer (’67EE) plan the event, is now eager to help out in a classroom. He explained, “Given how many years of collective experience we, as a group, have in various STEM fields, there’s no question that each of us can contribute a great deal in an educational setting. Everyone—from the smallest students up to those in high school—can benefit from having extra guidance and tutoring with STEM subjects.” Mel Weinzimer, who has had extensive experience as a STEM volunteer since retiring in 2006, said, “Volunteering in a school setting is remarkably rewarding. Students need to have role models in order to maintain their interest in studying math and science. We need to have them want to pursue STEM careers”

Valerie Cabral, the director of the Office of Alumni Relations, points out that there could be an added benefit to such volunteer activity. “Just maybe,” she says, “after being aided and mentored by our alumni, more students will envision themselves in STEM careers and will work hard to pursue the dream.”

Another initiative that the School of Engineering alumni have agreed to pursue is to jointly plan future events and merge with the New York University Alumni club in Southern Florida. The University Alumni Club, which has been in place for 11 years, is a vibrant and active club and is eager to have engineering alumni join their organization.

An exclusive NYU Alumni Film Screening is the next event on their busy calendar.