Ithaca is a truly beautiful place. Spring is glorious, summer
spectacular, and autumn stupendous. The light on a crisp,
clear winter morning would inspire Renaissance masters. At
the same time, it must be acknowledged that there are times
in an Ithaca winter when the world can feel like it has shrunk
down to just the small snowy segment visible as you cross the
Pew Engineering Quad with your head down, eyes narrowed,
muscles tensed against the windy cold, making your way to a
9 a.m. final exam. At times like these, Cornell can seem isolated
up on its hill overlooking Ithaca and the southern end of
Cayuga Lake, barely visible through the squall.
But this isolation is an illusion. You can’t see them
through the blinding snow, but there are tendrils radiating
out from the Quad and connecting Cornell Engineering with
people and places all over the world. Some of these links
head off to China, others to Spain or Germany or Tanzania.
Still others rise up into low-Earth orbit, and beyond. Cornell
engineers come from everywhere and they go everywhere.
Long before there even was a College of Engineering at
Cornell, students and professors were leaving their native
countries to come to Ithaca. In 1868 in the very first undergraduate class at the newly formed Cornell University was
one unknown student of “engineering and mechanical arts”
who listed his home address as “Italy.” These days, Cornell
keeps much better records. More than 2,500 students from
countries outside of the United States applied for admission
to the class of 2018 and the current undergraduate engineering population has students from 32 foreign countries.
At the graduate level, the number of countries represented is even greater. In fact, more than half of the 2,000
graduate students pursuing engineering degrees come
from outside of the United States. These 1,042 foreign-born