SEAS Attracts Large Cohort of Talented Graduate Students from South America

Dec 11 2014 | By Jocelyn Morales | Photo: Louis Cohen

This fall, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science welcomed over 1,100 new Master of Science and doctoral students. Among them, a new cohort of 63 South American students, 49 of whom are from Brazil, enjoyed a special welcome lunch in their honor as well as a series of social events throughout the semester. In contrast, in fall 2013, the School enrolled only 13 graduate students from South America including only four from Brazil.

For the past three years, the School invested significant efforts to attract talented Latin and South American students, including active engagement of governmental funding agencies in South America, graduate recruiting presentations at leading universities particularly in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia, and meetings with their deans and faculty to develop strong academic and research partnerships. “The Columbia Global Centers in Santiago and Rio were instrumental in facilitating many of these efforts,” said Soulaymane Kachani, vice dean and professor at Columbia Engineering.

In March 2014, a breakthrough in the collaboration with Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), the main government funding agency in Brazil, led to the establishment at Columbia Engineering of the first program that funds Brazilian students for studies in Master of Science programs in the United States. Forty-nine incoming SEAS graduate students are fully funded by the government of Brazil and are guaranteed employment in Brazil after the completion of their degree at Columbia. “We are very excited about this unique partnership with CAPES and the government of Brazil and look forward to extending this collaboration to attract an even larger number of talented students each year,” Kachani added.

Kachani was joined by Tiffany Simon, associate dean of Graduate Student Affairs and an active proponent of diversity recruitment at SEAS, to welcome the new South American students and encourage them to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them at Columbia. They suggested to the students to form a student group and offered support from both the Dean’s Office and the Engineering Graduate Student Council. The newly formed group, the Columbia Association of South American Students (CASAS), saw its membership grow quickly to incorporate previously enrolled South American students as well as a number of students from North America, Europe, and Asia. “CASAS has already proven to be active in planning several social events and starting to foster a strong sense of community at SEAS,” Simon noted.