Dean of Engineering Andrea Goldsmith welcomed members of the Class of 2027 and incoming graduate students to Princeton at events on Sept. 5 and 6 and congratulated them on embarking on a challenging and rewarding academic path.
“The foundation of the education you will get in engineering will serve you well, whatever you end up deciding to do,” said Goldsmith, the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the Sept. 5 welcome for undergraduates. “I am really delighted to welcome all of you to Princeton and to this truly spectacular campus. We’re happy that you have entrusted us to educate you and we will do everything possible to exceed what are probably already your high expectations for your entire academic journey.”
Goldsmith said Princeton students study with the most excellent and dedicated engineering teachers in the country. At Princeton, students work directly with faculty members on cutting-edge research and closely collaborate on senior thesis work that often advances the state of the art.
“The other thing that is truly unique about Princeton Engineering is that you’re studying engineering within a great liberal arts university,” she said. “This will give you a unique and broad perspective on how to develop technology that will solve problems facing humanity.”
Most rewarding, she said, will be the engagement with “other brilliant students in the humanities, the sciences and the arts.”
“Those people will teach you as much, if not more, than any of your professors,” Goldsmith said. “You are in a truly unique place, not only to study engineering but to get a broad education to make you a citizen of the world.”
The engineering Class of 2027 includes 396 students, about one-third of the entire first-year Princeton class. Of those, 146 students are women, and 62 are members of underrepresented groups. The School of Engineering and Applied Science also welcomed 223 first-year graduate students. Goldsmith emphasized to both groups that diversity is an important goal for the engineering school because “we believe that for engineering to achieve its full potential, we need a diverse set of ideas, and experiences, and perspectives.”
Goldsmith told students that this is a particularly exciting time to study engineering at Princeton, which is expanding the engineering faculty as well as programs. The school recently opened the Omenn-Darling Bioengineering Institute, which sits at the intersection of engineering, medicine and biology. Princeton has also launched new initiatives in robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum engineering, and blockchain technology.
She encouraged undergraduate and graduate students to take advantage of new programs in innovation and design at the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. “This will allow you to take your crazy ideas into a formal process and see if those ideas might be able to solve a complex problem you would not be able to solve on your own,” she said.
“Please be open to exploring,” Goldsmith said. “You may find that there’s one class or teacher that inspires you in a way you never could have imagined when you walked in the door here.”
Willingness to take risks is a common characteristic of successful people, Goldsmith said. She encouraged students to take risks even when they lead to failure.
“Don’t be afraid to fail,” she said. “I know that is easier said than done. But if you don’t go after doing big things that risk failure, you will not really be able to achieve all that’s possible.”