Princeton Engineering attracts record freshman class

By Steven Schultz
September 07, 2006

The freshman class enrolled in Princeton’s School of Engineering and Science this fall is the largest in the school’s history and comprises a diverse and highly qualified group of students.

At registration on Sept. 6, the freshman engineering class included 260 students. Last year the number was 236; the largest previous freshman class was 246 in 1998. The class includes students from 37 states and 27 nations, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Key Biscayne, Florida, and from Vietnam to Mauritius. Thirty-six percent are women, a record high.

“Our six departments appeal to a wide range of students,” said Peter Bogucki, associate dean for undergraduate affairs. “And our overall approach allows students to pursue many interests within and outside of engineering. We see engineering as a great place for students to combine scientific aptitude with a strong desire to make a positive difference in society.”

The school’s Freshman Orientation program began Monday Sept. 11 with an initial meeting in the Friend Center auditorium where Dean H. Vincent Poor welcomed the class and representatives of each department gave brief introductions to the opportunities available for undergraduate engineers. Orientation included a barbecue dinner for the incoming students, who met in small groups with engineering faculty advisors, upperclassmen and other freshmen.

Freshman Orientation 2006 Slideshow, Photos by Frank Wojciechowski

“A Princeton engineering education is a combination of liberal education and professional education,” Poor told the freshmen. “It provides the breadth of the liberal arts as well as the depth of fundamental engineering science principles. This combination enables students to understand the scientific, historical, economic, political, ethical and aesthetic dimensions of situations they encounter in life, and to use specific knowledge of engineering fundamentals to pursue fulfilling careers in engineering and other fields.” 

Alain Kornhauser, professor of operations research and financial engineering, gave this year’s faculty lecture, introducing freshman to the work of Princeton undergraduates who formed a group called Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering. Kornhauser and students told stories and showed video clips about their entry last year in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition for self-driving vehicles. The students are preparing an entry into a new competition this fall.

Alain Kornhauser drew a capacity crowd for a talk aboutPrinceton undergraduates' entry in last year’s DARPA Grand Challenge,