January 2017 - Spotlight: Stevens Institute of Technology College Tour

Driving to Stevens Institute, one first travels along an industrial waterfront that is minutes from the Holland Tunnel.  Then turn on Washington Street, the lovely Hoboken downtown area with an array of restaurants and shops. Hoboken is a small city on the Hudson River with distinct New York City views. 

As I drive up the hill on Central Street, I pass what I refer to as Greek Row, a group of large Victorian homes of Greek student life and then enter through Stevens castle-like archways.

My tour begins at the Ruesterholz  Admissions Center. I park and immediately gaze across the Hudson River at the New York City skyline. It is an overcast, bitter cold January day yet I cannot help but think what the skyline would look like at night and in the spring. Stevens is a small and walkable college campus, with tree lined streets and a mixture of contemporary and older structures. However, its proximity to NYC - and all the city has to offer professionally, socially and culturally - are just minutes away. Stevens capitalizes on this. 

The campus overview is presented by the assistant admissions director, an alumna of Stevens who majored in Electrical Engineering and Philosophy. It is common for students to double major in the sciences and liberal arts and also a minor.  Thus one of the key differentiators of Stevens, in that it is one of the first institutions to emphasize a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education.  

I am in a room with students, primarily juniors and seniors, and their parents. We are given an overview of the schools and majors offered, a profile of incoming students, and an admissions timeline. Stevens infuses project based learning in all its curricula. There is a course for students who run their own hedge funds and Bloomberg terminals normally found on Wall Street trading room floors. 

Stevens is one of the few institutions that offers a Bachelors of Engineering (BE) versus a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Engineering. A BE degree designation ensures students are trained in all the engineering disciplines. The most popular major at the School of Business is Business and Technology, a relatively new offering. For those who excel in math, the Quantitative Finance major is the most math intensive. Surprising to me, the Music and Technology program at the College of Arts and Letters is ranked second behind Berkeley School of Music. Stevens is small enough that research opportunities are available to all students in all disciplines. One simply needs to speak with a professor. For those interested in working for the US government in cybersecurity, there are 14 scholarships available to Stevens students including attractive living stipends.

There is a senior year culmination project, summer research opportunities, semester at sea program, 5 year professional cooperatives, internships and studies abroad. Over 1000 companies recruit at Stevens with three major career fairs each year. In fact, Facebook was on campus that day for an Information Session sponsored by the Career Services Department. And every student is assigned a career advisor as well as an undergraduate advisor the first week of school. It is clear Stevens is a hands on, career oriented institution. 

During the walking tour portion, we visited several buildings including The Financial Systems Lab, the Biomedical Engineering Lab with the Da Vinci Surgical Robot and the Naval Engineering Lab used by the US Navy and the Art and Technology Lab.  The dining hall appears to be the hub of student life with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the NYC skyline. For students interested in continuous access to food, the meal plan includes unlimited swipes.

The Library offers free walk-in tutors paid by the university. Stevens requires students to complete 4 credits in physical fitness every semester lending to the the ‘healthy mind healthy body’ connection. 

In addition to sports and Greek life, student life includes clubs, community service projects, the annual Castle Point Anime Convention and numerous performing arts performances. 

I met four students leading this tour. These students were accepted to Cornell, Rice and Northeastern Engineering programs. I asked why they chose Stevens. One mentioned Stevens collaborative and supportive environment. He pointed to the fact that Stevens graduates have a 100% job placement rate that lends to a cooperative vs. cut throat nature he felt at other schools. Another student mentioned the small community feel of the campus. She is one of the founders of the Women in Computer Science student organization which she says is fairly easy to stand up. None of the students came to Stevens particularly career oriented and focused but became so during their tenure at Stevens.