Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

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The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
Columbia Engineering logo.svg

United States
DeanShih-Fu Chang
Campus size2,004 graduate
1,425 undergraduate
EndowmentUS$400 million
AffiliationsColumbia University

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (popularly known as SEAS or Columbia Engineering; previously known as Columbia School of Mines) is the engineering and applied science school of Columbia University. It was founded as the School of Mines in 1863 and then the School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry before becoming the School of Engineering and Applied Science. On October 1, 1997, the school was renamed in honor of Chinese businessman Z.Y. Fu, who had donated $26 million to the school.

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science maintains a close research tie with other institutions including NASA, IBM, MIT, and The Earth Institute. Patents owned by the school generate over $100 million annually for the university. SEAS faculty and alumni are responsible for technological achievements including the developments of FM radio and the maser.

The School's applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, computer science and the financial engineering program in operations research are very famous and highly ranked.[1][2] The current SEAS faculty include 27 members of the National Academy of Engineering and one Nobel laureate. In all, the faculty and alumni of Columbia Engineering have won 10 Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, and economics.

The school consists of approximately 300 undergraduates in each graduating class and maintains close links with its undergraduate liberal arts sister school Columbia College which shares housing with SEAS students. The School's current dean is Mary Cunningham Boyce, who was appointed in 2013.


Original charter of 1754[edit]

Included in the original charter for Columbia College was the direction to teach "the arts of Number and Measuring, of Surveying and Navigation [...] the knowledge of [...] various kinds of Meteors, Stones, Mines and Minerals, Plants and Animals, and everything useful for the Comfort, the Convenience and Elegance of Life." Engineering has always been a part of Columbia, even before the establishment of any separate school of engineering.

An early and influential graduate from the school was John Stevens, Class of 1768. Instrumental in the establishment of U.S. patent law, Stevens procured many patents in early steamboat technology, operated the first steam ferry between New York and New Jersey, received the first railroad charter in the U.S., built a pioneer locomotive, and amassed a fortune, which allowed his sons to found the Stevens Institute of Technology. (Excerpt from SEAS website.)

When Columbia University first resided on Wall Street, engineering did not have a school under the Columbia umbrella. After Columbia outgrew its space on Wall Street, it relocated to what is now Midtown Manhattan in 1857. Then President Barnard and the Trustees of the University, with the urging of Professor Thomas Egleston and General Vinton, approved the School of Mines in 1863. The intention was to establish a School of Mines and Metallurgy with a three-year program open to professionally motivated students with or without prior undergraduate training. It was officially founded in 1864 under the leadership of its first dean, Columbia professor Charles F. Chandler, and specialized in mining and mineralogical engineering. An example of work from a student at the School of Mines was William Barclay Parsons, Class of 1882. He was an engineer on the Chinese railway and the Cape Cod and Panama Canals. Most importantly he worked for New York, as a chief engineer of the city's first subway system, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. Opened in 1904, the subway's electric cars took passengers from City Hall to Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the newly renamed and relocated Columbia University in Morningside Heights, its present location on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Renaming to the School of Mines[edit]

In 1896, the school was renamed to the "School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry". During this time, the University was offering more than the previous name had implied, thus the change of name.

The faculty during this time included Michael I. Pupin, after whom Pupin Hall is named. Pupin himself was a graduate of the Class of 1883 and the inventor of the "Pupin coil", a device that extended the range of long-distance telephones. Students of his included Irving Langmuir, Nobel laureate in Chemistry (1932), inventor of the gas-filled tungsten lamp and a contributor to the development of the radio vacuum tube. Another student to work with Pupin was Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio. After graduating in 1913 Armstrong was stationed in France during World War I. There he developed the superheterodyne receiver to detect the frequency of enemy aircraft ignition systems. During this period, Columbia was also home to the "Father of Biomedical Engineering" Elmer L. Gaden.

Recent and future developments[edit]

The university continued to evolve and expand as the United States became a major political power during the 20th century. In 1926, the newly renamed School of Engineering prepared students for the nuclear age. Graduating with a master's degree, Hyman George Rickover, working with the Navy's Bureau of Ships, directed the development of the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, which was launched in 1954.

The school's first woman graduate received her degree in 1945.[3] After a substantial grant of $26 million from Chinese businessman Z. Y. Fu, the engineering school was renamed again in 1997. The new name, as it is known today is the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. SEAS continues to be a teaching and research institution, now with a large endowment of over $400 million, and sits under the Columbia umbrella endowment of $7.2 billion.


The admissions rate for the SEAS undergraduate class of 2018 was approximately 7%.[4]

Approximately 95% of accepted students were in the top 10% of their graduating class; 99% were in the top 20% of their class. 58% of admitted students attended high schools that do not rank. The yield rate for the class of 2014 was 59%.[5]

As for SAT scores, SEAS students within the Columbia University community have raised the composite SAT statistic for the undergraduates at Columbia University.[6][7] The Class of 2013's SAT interquartile range was 2060–2320 and 1400–1560 (old SAT). The ACT composite interquartile range was 32–34.

Those accepting enrollment at Columbia SEAS typically completed engineering programs at the undergraduate level and are pursuing professional graduate school in engineering, business, law, or medical school, so as to become what Columbia terms "engineering leaders." Engineering leaders are those who pioneer or define engineering: patent lawyers, doctors with specialties in biophysical engineering, financial engineers, inventors, etc.

Columbia Engineering's graduate programs have an overall acceptance rate of 28.0% in 2010.[8] The PhD student–faculty ratio at the graduate level is 4.2:1 according to the 2008 data compiled by U.S. News & World Report.[9] PhD acceptance rate was 12% in 2010.



Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science is one of the top engineering schools in the United States and the world. It is ranked 21st among the best engineering schools by U.S. News & World Report, and third within the Ivy League.

In 2010, the US National Research Council revealed its new analyses and rankings of American university doctoral programs since 1995. Columbia Engineering ranked 10th in biomedical engineering, 18th in chemical engineering, 26th in electrical engineering, 14th in mechanical engineering (5th in research), 9th in operations research & industrial engineering, 7th in applied mathematics, and 6th in computer sciences.[10]

The school's department of computer science is ranked 17th in the nation,[11] 20th in the world by Academic Ranking of World Universities,[12] and 13th according to PhDs.[13] Its biomedical engineering program is ranked 16th according to US News and is ranked 7th by PhDs.org.[14]

Among the small prestigious programs, the school's chemical engineering is ranked 20th, civil engineering and engineering mechanics 18th, electrical engineering 3rd, applied physics 4th, industrial engineering and operations research 4th, material engineering 10th, computer science 15th, and applied mathematics 15th, according to National Science Foundation.[15] From The Chronicle of Higher Education, Columbia's engineering mechanics is 6th in the nation, its environmental engineering 4th, industrial engineering 7th, mechanical engineering 5th, applied physics 8th, and operations research 6th. Finally, Columbia's financial engineering program is ranked 3rd nationally, according to the 2020 ranking from Quantnet.[16]


Columbia's Plasma Physics Laboratory is part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), in which the HBT and Columbia Non-Neutral Torus are housed.

The school also has two wind tunnels, a machine shop, a nanotechnology laboratory, a General Dynamics TRIGA Mk. II nuclear fission reactor, a large scale centrifuge for geotechnical testing, and an axial tester commonly used for testing New York City bridge cables. Each department has numerous laboratories on the Morningside Heights campus; however, other departments have holdings throughout the world. For example, the Applied Physics department has reactors at Nevis Labs in Irvington, NY and conducts work with CERN in Geneva.

Notable alumni[edit]

The School of Engineering and Applied Science celebrates its ties and affiliations with at least 9 Nobel Laureates. Alumni of Columbia Engineering have gone on to numerous fields of profession. Many have become prominent scientists, astronauts, architects, government officials, pioneers, entrepreneurs, company CEOs, financiers, and scholars.

Affiliates of the School[edit]

Specialized centers[edit]

Columbia Engineering faculty are a central force in creating many groundbreaking discoveries that today are shaping life tomorrow. They are at the vanguard of their fields, collaborating with other world-renowned experts at Columbia and other universities to bring the best minds from a myriad of disciplines to shape the future.

Large, well-funded interdisciplinary centers in science and engineering, materials research, nanoscale research, and genomic research are making step changes in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve theoretical and practical problems in other significant areas. Last year, Columbia Engineering's 2007–2008 research expenditures were $92,000,000, a very respectable number given the small size of the school. Harvard's research expenditures in the same period were $35,000,000. Columbia Engineering PhD students have ~60% more monetary resources to work with using the research expenditure : PhD student ratio.

Specialized labs[edit]

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science occupies five laboratory and classroom buildings at the north end of the campus, including the Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research and the new Northwest Building on Morningside Heights. Because of the School's close proximity to the other Morningside facilities and programs, Columbia engineering students have access to the whole of the University's resources.

Carleton Laboratory main testing floor

The School is the site of an almost overwhelming array of basic and advanced research installations which include both the NSEC and the MRSEC NSF-funded interdisciplinary research centers, as well as the Columbia High-Beta Tokamak, the Robert A.W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory, and a 200g geotechnical centrifuge.

The Botwinick Multimedia Learning Laboratory is the School's facility for computer-aided design (CAD) and media development. It is equipped with 50 Apple Mac Pro 8-core workstations, as well as a cluster of Apple Xserves with Xraid storage, that serve the lab's 300-plus users per semester.

Other programs[edit]

  • Undergraduate Research Involvement Program
    • Each SEAS department sponsors opportunities to do novel undergraduate research which have applications in the real world. Departmental Chairs supervise students through the process, and mentoring with a professor is provided.
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
    • Administered by both the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Departments through a joint Computer Engineering Committee.
  • The Combined Plan Programs
    • The 3–2, B.A./B.S., is designed to provide students with the opportunity to receive both a B.A. degree from an affiliated liberal arts college and a B.S. degree from SEAS within five years. Students complete the requirements for the liberal arts degree along with a pre-engineering course of study in three years at their college and then complete two years at Columbia.
    • The 4–2 M.S. program is designed to allow students to complete an M.S. degree at SEAS in two years after completion of a B.A. degree at one of the affiliated schools. This program will allow students the opportunity to take undergraduate engineering courses if necessary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NRC Rankings Overview: Applied Mathematics – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education. Chronicle.com (September 30, 2010). Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  2. ^ The Top 10 Quant Schools
  3. ^ Farmer, Melanie. "College Marks 25 years of Coeducation". The Record. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  4. ^ http://www.columbia.edu/cu/opir/abstract/opir_admissions_history_1.htm
  5. ^ http://www.columbia.edu/cu/opir/abstract/admissions_all.htm
  6. ^ Columbia University – 2009. Profiles.asee.org. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  7. ^ "Stats". Archived from the original on June 23, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  8. ^ US Engineering Schools – American Best Online Engineering School Rankings. Engineeringschoolsinusa.com. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.[dead link]
  9. ^ Columbia University (Fu Foundation) | Best Engineering School | US News. Grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  10. ^ Resdoc_MainTop_CDF. Sites.nationalacademies.org (September 28, 2010). Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  11. ^ Best Computer Science Programs | Top Computer Science Schools | US News Best Graduate Schools Archived March 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  12. ^ [1] Archived January 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Ranking of Computer Sciences Graduate Schools — PhDs.org Graduate School Guide. Graduate-school.phds.org. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  14. ^ Ranking of Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering Graduate Schools — PhDs.org Graduate School Guide. Graduate-school.phds.org. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  15. ^ Jobs for PhDs, graduate school rankings, and career resources. PhDs.org (August 13, 2013). Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ Officers and Graduates of Columbia University, Originally the College of the Province of New York Known as King's College: General Catalogue ... New York: Columbia University. 1900. p. 441.
  18. ^ a b Officers and Graduates of Columbia University, Originally the College of the Province of New York Known as King's College: General Catalogue ... New York: Columbia University. 1900. p. 442.
  19. ^ Officers and Graduates of Columbia University, Originally the College of the Province of New York Known as King's College: General Catalogue ... New York: Columbia University. 1900. p. 444.
  20. ^ Officers and Graduates of Columbia University, Originally the College of the Province of New York Known as King's College: General Catalogue ... New York: Columbia University. 1900. p. 445.
  21. ^ Officers and Graduates of Columbia University, Originally the College of the Province of New York Known as King's College: General Catalogue ... New York: Columbia University. 1900. p. 446.
  22. ^ Columbia Alumni News. Alumni Council of Columbia University. 1920.
  23. ^ "WILLARD F. JONES, 77, GULF OIL EXECUTIVE". The New York Times. August 20, 1967.
  24. ^ McQuiston, John T. (October 18, 1986). "Robert D. Lilley Is Dead at 74; Former President of A.t.&t". The New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  25. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Henry S. Coleman, 79, Dies; Hostage at Columbia in '68", The New York Times, February 4, 2006. Accessed September 12, 2009.
  26. ^ "Ira Fuchs | Internet Hall of Fame". www.internethalloffame.org. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  27. ^ "COLUMBIA'S OLYMPIC HISTORY". Columbia University Athletics. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  28. ^ About Seas Birth Place of Laser

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°48′34″N 73°57′36″W / 40.80945°N 73.96013°W / 40.80945; -73.96013