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Sciences + engineering at Union

Small classes and labs. Professors who care. Nationally recognized programs. Union is the ideal place to immerse yourself in the STEM disciplines.

We offer a diverse number of programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Our facilities rival professional and graduate-level resources, and our talented faculty are passionate about their teaching and research.

Professor Chad Orzel

Union's focus on integrating the liberal arts and STEM will prepare you to understand the dynamic demands of our tech-centric society, and to address age-old questions about the human condition through courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences. We are equipping students with the knowledge, experience and wisdom to lead in emerging fields that cross disciplines, and to make an extraordinary difference in the world, now and across multiple tomorrows.

It's why students come to Union today.

There are many good reasons to study STEM at Union. Chad Orzel, associate professor of physics, weighs in on a few of them. He is a popular scientific author (Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects; How to Teach Physics to Your Dog; and other books). He blogs at forbes.com.

  • Read (and listen to) what Chad has to say...

    Why study STEM at Union?

    “Our students are engaged in research at a level that’s just not possible at many other institutions. We have facilities and equipment that are comparable to those at larger universities, such as our particle accelerator. But at those schools, the facilities are mostly controlled by graduate and post- doctoral students. Our undergrads are deeply involved in the operation of everything we have.”

    Do you get to know your students?

    “As with many other things at Union, the most important element of our science teaching is building relationships between students and faculty. We work so closely with students on research projects that over four years, our top students become akin to research colleagues. And because our classes are so small, we interact with our students on a variety of levels.”

    What's exciting about Union’s undergraduate research?

    “It spans all disciplines. At our annual research day, Steinmetz Symposium, it’s exciting to see so many students cross academic boundaries in unexpected ways— like the electrical engineering major who created digital tap shoes and performed in the dance festival.”

    What makes Union STEM students more competitive after graduation?

    “I never fail to be impressed with how well our students express themselves in public. Beyond developing the ability to do a narrow technical presentation in their field, our students learn to speak with knowledge and confidence on a wide range of topics to many different audiences, whether on campus, or at local or national research conferences. These communication skills are essential in almost any line of work.”

    VIDEO: Why study STEM at Union?

Small classes. Top-notch academics and research. Professors who care.

A COURSE IN MICROBIOLOGY INCLUDES LECTURES PLUS LAB WORK.

Combine your STEM program with majors and minors in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Hands-on, faculty-mentored undergraduate research is at the heart of a Union education.

A student looks at a presentational poster at the Steinmetz Symposium

FOR ONE DAY EACH SPRING, UNION CELEBRATES STUDENT RESEARCH AT THE COLLEGE'S STEINMETZ SYMPOSIUM.

Engineering students Yueyin Su and Benjamin Davis collaborate on the replicable power wheel chair.

ENGINEERING STUDENTS YUEYIN SU AND BENJAMIN DAVIS COLLABORATE ON THE REPLICABLE POWER WHEELCHAIR.

All year round, students work closely with their professors—in classrooms, labs, studios, archives and in the field—delving into topics that intrigue and challenge them. And for one day each May, the College suspends classes so that students can share their academic and creative interests and talents at the Steinmetz Symposium, a campus-wide celebration with peers, professors and families.

The symposium celebrates a culture of personal discovery that integrates coursework, faculty mentorship and peer collaboration to deepen students’ understanding of their subjects and themselves.

Here's a look at a few recent STEM-focused presentations by students.

  • Automated Surface Photometry of Galaxies in Groups
  • Biopolymer-Based Triboelectric Nanogenerators
  • Carbon Dynamics in a Marsh-Dominated Estuarine Ecosystem
  • Designing a Low-Cost Ultrasound Pulser
  • Freezing Brain Tumors Noninvasively with Laser Cooling
  • Geometric Constructions, Origami and Galois Theory
  • Identifying Backward-Looking Neurons in the Aeshnidae Dragonfly
  • Light-Induced Expression of a Blue Coral Protein in an Industrial Fungus
  • Mozart Effect and Other Misbeliefs About Psychology
  • Optimizing a Connecting Rod through 3D Printing
  • Portable Solar Energy Power System for Natural Disaster Relief
  • Quantification of hFSHR Signaling to Determine Dependence of Lipid Raft Residency
  • Teleoperation of Robotic Systems in Virtual Reality
  • Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Identify Tick Hosts
  • Water Quality Policies in New York and California
  • Zero Emissions Credits and Nuclear Energy Subsidization in the Empire State

Research that makes a difference

Empowering children with special needs

For the past several years, Union engineering students have been working to design a replicable wheelchair for children that's reasonably priced and easy to use by retrofitting the Power Wheels Wild Thing, a Fisher-Price battery-powered vehicle.

A living laboratory not far from campus

Biology professor Jeffrey Corbin conducts much of his experimental work in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. This globally rare pine barren ecosystem is a short car ride away from the Union campus, creating an ideal opportunity to get his classes into the field and also include students in his research.

On campus and off, there are great ways to become involved in activities geared toward your interests.

Blake Newcomer '21

GEOLOGY AND ECONOMICS MAJOR BLAKE NEWCOMER ‘21 DIGITIZED MICROFOSSIL METADATA AT THE CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.

Benita Lopez
COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR BENITA LOPEZ '21 INTERNED AS A DATA ANALYST AT ZENDESK IN SAN FRANCISCO.

A sampling of recent STEM internships

  • Boston Museum of Science
  • FloDesign Wind Turbine
  • General Dynamics
  • General Electric
  • Harvard Psychophysiology Lab
  • Johns Hopkins Medical Center
  • MGE Engineering
  • MiSci (Museum of Science and Innovation)
  • NASA
  • Nature Conservancy
  • New York Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research
  • Semprus Bioscience
  • Sierra Leone Health Care
  • Stanley Black & Decker
  • Yale Bioethics Institute

San Francisco Internship on Innovation and Creativity

Union students get a firsthand look at the culture of Silicon Valley while working for start-ups and other companies during this term away. The program combines an internship with a course in culture and entrepreneurship, which includes readings, field notes, and meetings with key employers and alumni in the area. About half of the students work in STEM-related fields. Most recently, participants have interned at the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, the software company Zendesk, a student loan refinancing start-up, and numerous nonprofits.

STEM abroad

  • Explore marine ecology on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  • Learn about women, the environment and social change in Brazil while studying in Sao Paulo.
  • Take engineering courses on an exchange program in Prague, Czech Republic.

With Union's international programs, you'll experience another culture, challenge yourself academically and personally, and develop as a citizen of the world. Most programs are led by our own Union faculty, so you also will get to know your professors beyond the campus environment.

Student clubs

There are numerous student clubs and organizations that appeal to STEM majors and others with a love of science and technology. They range from student chapters of science and engineering societies to clubs devoted to health and medicine, environmental action, rocketry and space, beekeeping and more.

No matter what your STEM field, our campus environment is designed to spark your passion for exploration, discovery and reasoning in scientific and technical fields – and empower success in your future studies and career.

The striking Ainlay Hall is a key feature of the brand new Integrated Science and Engineering Complex.
THE STRIKING AINLAY HALL IS A KEY FEATURE OF THE BRAND NEW INTEGRATED SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING COMPLEX.
The Imagine Lab is stocked with an extensive collection of virtual reality tools.

THE IMAGINE LAB IS STOCKED WITH AN EXTENSIVE COLLECTION OF VIRTUAL, AUGMENTED AND MIXED REALITY TOOLS.

Here's a look at some of the exciting ways you can delve into the STEM disciplines at Union.

» USE a 1.1-MV tandem pelletron accelerator, 400-MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, micro CT scanner and other sophisticated instrumentation, including equipment in the thermal science and fluid mechanics lab.

» VIEW the planets and gain a galaxy of knowledge by using the Union Observatory, which features a 20-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope with SBIG CCD camera and a 7.5-foot radio telescope for research projects in observational and radio astronomy.

» DO cutting-edge work in tissue culture and molecular biology suites.

» WORK with robots and leverage a state-of- the-art motion capture system in the CRoCHET lab —the Collaborative Robotics and Computer-Human Empirical Testing Lab.

» EXPLORE sustainable building design and renewable energy systems in the Energy and Environmental Engineering Suite. Design, set up and monitor prototypes in the Rooftop Energy Research Lab.

» UNDERSTAND how the brain works, with studies in everything from neuroethology to the intricacies of cognitive processing, in the Center for Neuroscience.

» FABRICATE and tinker in our Makerspaces, interdisciplinary labs that support maker activities using digital and analog tools, including virtual reality technology, 3D printers and scanners, a laser cutter, CNC router, soldering kits and more.

» LEARN about how to acquire, analyze, interpret and visualize data in our Center for Data Analytics.

» STUDY the peptoid-mediated assembly of nanoparticles at fluid interfaces using the Langmuir trough.

Our emphasis on innovation, research, problem-solving and communications will set you up for success in graduate schools, fellowships and a wide range of careers.

CHARLES MOORE '87, HEAD AND NECK SURGEON AT GRADY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, ATLANTA

Here's a look at what some of our graduates are doing:

ASTRONOMY

  • Educator, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
  • Fulbright researcher, Germany
  • Ph.D. candidate in astronomy, Yale University

BIOCHEMISTRY

  • Ph.D. candidate in chemistry, Purdue University
  • Physician, Jackson Memorial Hospital
  • Research associate, Berg Diagnostics

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

  • Anesthesiologist, Maimonides Medical Center
  • Medical writer, Yale New Haven Hospital
  • Veterinarian, Valley Animal Hospital

BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING

  • Associate project engineer, Stryker Orthopaedic
  • CAD engineer, ConforMIS Inc.
  • Mechanical engineer, Ephesus Lighting
  • Research manager, Partners HealthCare

CHEMISTRY

  • Assistant professor, Duke University
  • Chemical research scientist, Roche Pharmaceutical
  • Senior research chemist, Nalco Chemical Company
  • Senior scientist, Base Pair Biotechnologies

COMPUTER ENGINEERING

  • Database developer, Acustream Senior
  • Systems engineer Lockheed Martin
  • Systems analyst, International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Vice president, Morgan Stanley '

COMPUTER SCIENCE

  • Lead financial analyst, IBM
  • Patent examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Robotics researcher and Ph.D. candidate, Cornell University

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

  • Electrical engineer, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories
  • Engineer, Apple
  • Manager/integrations engineer, Google
  • Systems engineer, Raytheon

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

  • Assistant project manager, Triumvirate Environmental
  • Estuary stewardship educator, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Financial associate, Fidelity Investments

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

  • Bioacoustician, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
  • Landscape designer, Sasaki Architecture and Planning
  • Ph.D. candidate in earth and planetary sciences, Northwestern University

GEOSCIENCES

  • Ph.D. candidate in igneous petrology, Stanford University
  • Physical scientist, Naval Oceanographic Office, Stennis Space Center
  • Seismologist, National Earthquake Alerts Centre, Australia

MATHEMATICS

  • Associate vice president, Barclay’s Capital
  • CRM applications account manager, Oracle
  • Software developer, Allscripts

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

  • Chief design engineer, General Electric
  • Engineer, Toyota Racing Development
  • Pilot, Wasabi Air Racing

NEUROSCIENCE

  • Chief resident, New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center
  • Clinical research coordinator in neurooncology, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Educator, Teach for America
  • Image reading center manager, Johns Hopkins University

PHYSICS

  • Chamberlain fellow, Berkeley National Lab
  • Nuclear operations engineer, Bechtel Marine
  • Propulsion Corporation
  • Ph.D. candidate in physics, University of Michigan

PSYCHOLOGY

  • Clinical trial coordinator, Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • Ph.D. candidate in social psychology, University of Iowa
  • Psychiatric social worker, Bellevue Hospital Center

Meet some STEM stars

GORDON GOULD '41 » Inventor of the laser; worked on the Manhattan Project, 1943-45; co-founded optical communications company Optelecom; elected to National Inventors Hall of Fame

BARUCH BLUMBERG '46 » Physician and scientist; discovered antigen for Hepatitis B; received Nobel Prize in medicine

ALFRED SOMMERS '63 » Ophthalmologist who discovered vitamin A vaccine to save millions from blindness; received the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research

RICH TEMPLETON '80 » Chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments; electrical engineer and global leader in semi-conductor design and manufacturing; vigorous STEM education advocate

SUE GOLDIE '84 » Physician and MacArthur Fellow who developed models to evaluate public health impact of HIV, hepatitis and HPV

MELISSA STEWART '90 » Award-winning author of National Geographic Kids titles and other science books for children

SUSAN HULSE '92 » Medical director, Because Every Mother Matters, providing medical assistance to indigent women in Ethiopia

JULIA COLLIGNON '04 » Engineer and senior manager at Tesla's Renewable Energy Development

KAROLINA CIKOWSKA '07 » Founder of Girls Code Fun Foundation to inspire girls in Poland to pursue an education in technology

AJAY MAJOR '12 and ALEENA PAUL '12 » Medical residents and founding editors of In-Training, the premier online journal for the worldwide medical student community

MEGAN O’CONNOR '12 » Co-founder and CEO, Nth Cycle environmentally friendly electronics recycling firm; Department of Energy Innovation Crossroads Fellow; Forbes “30 Under 30” energy innovator

CHARLES MOORE '87 » Head and neck surgeonm Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta

Catching up with...Helen Hanson '83

Helen Hanson '83 is an associate professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering Department.  After graduate school in Cambridge, Mass., she was a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jackson Selent '22 amd Mia Villeneuve '22 work on the particle accelerator.

JACKSON SELENT '22 AMD MIA VILLENEUVE '22 WORK ON THE PARTICLE ACCELERATOR.