Walking around the Brooklyn campus of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, you will see the world’s future entrepreneurs, engineers, and doctors hard at work. Whether studying for an upcoming exam or perfecting their homework, Tandon students are always up to something. I can also assure you that Tandon students are up to much more than your typical engineering students! For example, if you can’t find us somewhere in the library, you’ll most likely find us at our Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) meetings.
As aspiring engineers many Tandon students seek hands-on experience in the field of our interest. Although some of us came into college knowing exactly what we want to do, others might not have an exact idea. To be sure, college is the time to explore different interests and shape a clear path for what we want to do after we graduate, but many students don’t know where to start.
I came to NYU knowing that I wanted to participate in projects and research related to my major. Still, I was nervous at first, since I had almost no experience outside of the classroom related to mechanical engineering. Luckily, NYU Tandon makes providing students a range of resources to support their academic and personal growth a priority.
A prime example? Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) that allow students to gain practical experience on long-term projects with faculty members and other students.
What Do They Do?
Each VIP team is unique and tailored to a specific research topic. Examples include cybersecurity, health and well-being, and advanced media. Some VIP teams build and operate a specific type of machine, like a rocket, and then enter it into a competition. Other VIP teams try to address a specific challenge, such as aiding those who are visually impaired. VIP participants work in teams with a faculty adviser and made up of students from a broad range of majors.
Taking part in the VIP program is a great opportunity for students to gain research and experience. Plus, students can improve their leadership skills and even publish their research findings. This experience also helps students stand out among their peers when entering the workforce and applying for internships. It’s important to note that VIP programs are open to students in all majors! You don’t have to be a Tandon student to join. And one of the biggest perks? Students can earn credit toward graduation.
Why Should I Join?
Several of my friends and I have participated in a VIP since our freshman year. My friend, Ritti Bhogal, a Computer Science and Engineering major, has been a part of the NYU RoboMaster Team UltraViolet since her freshman year. Witnessing how passionate she has become about her team shows that the VIP program is not only a resume booster, but also as an opportunity for personal and academic growth. Plus, it can be a way to discover interests you may not know you’ll like!
Although she started as a team member in her freshman year, Ritti dedicated countless hours working with her specific team to program a set of robots. And now as a sophomore, she has not only risen to a leadership role but helped the team raise nearly $13,000 in competition funding.
On the one hand, the VIP program allows students to discover new interests. But on the other, it is also a great way for students to apply the interests they already have! My friends Maxine Marty, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Fernando Bedoya, majoring in Mechnical Engineering, are a part of the Flexible AI-enabled Mechatronic Systems Lab (FAMS). The team’s goal is to make a fully functional arm out of artificial muscles and fingers. The current challenge is getting the arm to grab a tennis ball. Much easier said than done!
Maxine enjoys using her passion for 3-D printing to colead one of the teams within FAMs and oversee the production and testing of materials. Prior to joining the team, Fernando was already passionate about computer-aided design (CAD) software. When he heard the FAMs team needed someone with expertise in CAD, he eagerly stepped in and was ready to put his talents to use.
Regardless of your major, applying the knowledge learned in the classroom to the real world is a great opportunity. Working well in teams and developing strong leadership skills are also crucial to future success. You’ll become more confident not only the workspace but in your personal life as well. If you are looking to hone these skills at NYU, then you are in luck!
Tandon’s VIP program is definitely one of the best resources NYU has to offer. I strongly encourage all NYU students (not just those studying engineering!) to try out the VIP program. Who knows, one day your team may make history.