3-2 Engineering Program Offers Students Distinctive Option

Physics majors headed to Columbia University

August 8th, 2011 by Catherine Burgess '12

For Mike DeFeo ’12 and Andrew Novicki ’12, summer has been a time to play with lasers.

As second-time participants of Holy Cross’ annual Summer Research Program, DeFeo and Novicki spent eight weeks with Timothy Roach, associate professor and chair of physics, working with lasers that manipulate the temperature of rubidium atoms.

The close interactions DeFeo and Novicki had with their professor will come in handy for their next academic endeavor.

When this year’s Summer Research Program concluded on July 29, the physics majors also finished their time at Holy Cross. Instead of joining the other seniors in their final year on The Hill, DeFeo, of Avon, Conn., and Novicki, of Winchester, Mass., will attend the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University this fall as part of Holy Cross’ 3-2 Program.

The program gives students like DeFeo and Novicki the opportunity to spend their first three years at Holy Cross and, if accepted, two final years at Columbia studying a specific engineering major of their choice. The result: a bachelor of arts degree from Holy Cross and a bachelor of science degree from Columbia.

According to Alisa DeStefano, associate professor of mathematics and computer science and director of the 3-2 Program, about 10 to 15 students express interest in the program during their first year. Due to strict grade point average and curriculum requirements both at Holy Cross and Columbia, between two and five students apply and are accepted to the program during their junior year.

DeFeo and Novicki are among four Holy Cross students to attend Columbia University this fall. The others are Jerry D’Arco ’12, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jamie Jelinek ’11, of Great Falls, Va., both of whom are also physics majors.

Novicki and DeFeo will pursue degrees in electrical engineering while D’Arco will specialize in applied physics and Jelinek in civil engineering.

All four students said the combination of a liberal arts education and engineering specialization is what attracted them to the 3-2 Program because, as D’Arco says, it “makes for a complete scientist.”

DeFeo adds, “I liked the idea of the 3-2 Program because I was able to get a full liberal arts experience without giving up my opportunity to pursue an engineering education. I wasn’t ready to specialize right out of high school and I secretly liked having to take classes that I normally wouldn’t. In fact, two of my favorite classes at Holy Cross — Microeconomics and Music Theory — have been outside my major.”

At Holy Cross, Novicki worked in the College’s Information Technology Services department and as a web editor and reporter for the College’s student newspaper, The Crusader. DeFeo was a member of the men’s rugby team and the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program through the College’s Student Programs for Urban Development. D’Arco, also a member of the men’s rugby team, worked with the Student Government Association. All three worked as tutors for the physics department.

Jelinek, a member of the men’s hockey team and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, says, “I committed to Holy Cross to play hockey, and the program was perfect because it allowed me to play the sport I loved and get the degree that I wanted.”

Upon completion of the program in 2013, the students will have the capabilities to take their degrees in various directions. Novicki and D’Arco hope to pursue a master’s degree in engineering while DeFeo plans to bring his science degree to the business world. Jelinek is interested in the many career paths his degree will allow him to take.

While they are going to miss life on The Hill, these students are looking forward to studying what they love in New York, a city rich in opportunity.

Says DeFeo: “I believe the background that Holy Cross has given me will be invaluable and that is what’s going to differentiate me from the other engineering students.”

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Comments (1)
  1. Andrew Lin says:

    I’m glad to see that there’s a feature on the 3-2 engineering program. I graduated from Holy Cross and Columbia, and went on to complete a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford. I now work as the lead architect for chip designs at a startup in Silicon Valley. The education from Holy Cross was a solid foundation to pursue engineering, and the 3-2 program provided a gateway to jump into engineering.

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