This story is one of a series of profiles of 2012 graduates. See all senior profiles for this year here.
Civil engineering major Sadie Zukowski loves architecture. So it’s only fitting that a few nights before graduating, she and her friends took pictures from the top of every building on campus.
Zukowski, who grew up in a small town in Connecticut, said she knew from an early age that she wanted to apply to Columbia. She discovered an appreciation for engineering’s practical applications, so she applied early to the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
When she arrived on campus, she realized she had a “fundamental interest in architecture and the way that buildings and structure take shape,” she said, motivating her to major in civil engineering.
But as she got more involved with civil engineering, she started to find it “a bit restricting,” she said. While still fulfilling the requirements for the civil engineering major, Zukowski began exploring computer vision, artificial intelligence, and music interpretation on the side.
But even though she’ll be pursuing a master’s in artificial intelligence at the University of Colorado, Boulder, next year, she said that if she could redo her four years at Columbia, she’d still major in civil engineering.
“The kids in that major were so great to be around and are now some of my closest friends here,” she said.
Zukowski stressed that her friendships were the best part of her college years.
“Columbia taught me how to interact with people—I very much fit the stereotype of the awkward engineer,” she said.
But she hasn’t formed relationships just with her peers. “All of the chefs at John Jay know me very well because of my food allergies,” she added with a smile.
Over the last four years, Zukowski was heavily involved in musical groups, playing the French horn with the Columbia University Orchestra and several chamber groups. She has performed at Carnegie Hall twice, and she was also the secretary of the Tae Kwon Do club team last year.
Academically, Zukowski is proud of the work she did to redesign the roof of the Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center’sdrainage system in the West Bronx. She took on this project with a few classmates in her first-year Gateway class.
As a junior, Zukowski received the DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering fellowship, which allowed her to spend the summer in Germany studying construction safety and applications of radio-frequency identification.
Zukowski urged students to get to know their peers better and to “go and talk with your friends outside, at night, around campus.” And that’s her best advice—unless you’re trying to take pictures from the top of various buildings, and structures, around Columbia.
“My advice to anyone who is going to take a picture on top of ‘The Thinker’: Hold on to his hand and behind the calf and pull yourself up,” she said.