Austen Paris SEAS ’19 has got some wisdom, and he’s ready to share it!

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Austen Paris, SEAS, Mechanical Engineering, New York, NY – Born in Sleepy Hollow, NY

Claim to fame: Most likely SEAS student to be confused for a CC student. When people were still asking me if I study architecture four years into college, I figured they were just in SEAS denial – but it’s still a compliment.

Where are you going? Los Angeles for a year and then Paris for six months as part of a rotational program. I don’t know where I’ll be next, but as they say: you can take the Jew out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the Jew.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?

  1. If you’re in SEAS, plan out your classes for all four years during your freshmen year. Taking half the econ major, an architecture studio, and doing robotics research in my first two years was cool, but not having to take 1000-level chemistry lab as a major requirement senior year would’ve been way cooler. It pays to do things in order.
  2. It’s easy to get sucked into the Columbia vortex, but it’s also easy to get disconnected from campus life with everything NYC has to offer. Befriend a bartender at 1020 and the doorman at Paul’s and you’ll have the best of both worlds.
  3. In the arts, it seems like all but better known names get the most attention in NYC, and it’s easy to get simultaneously jaded and discouraged about the nature of the creative scene in the city. There’s so much talent just on Columbia’s campus – don’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunities to enjoy bands, comedy, and art.

“Back in my day…” It was pretty much all downhill after Cannon’s sold out to “dried” hot pot. I like my hot pots wet, thank you very much. Now 1020 charges $2 for water, Joe’s has three types of cold brew, sushi-automation took all the jobs at Café East, and neo-liberal wet dream we call Enclave has scared off the local pigeon population. Yet, in an act of symbolic resistance to gentrification, Columbia promptly removed all the stoves from EC, shut down water, and let the mold go wild. Was it a veiled metaphorical critique of NYCHA? We may never know.

Favorite Columbia controversy? I’d rather resign than answer this question.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I built an electric car for my senior ‘thesis’ so I’m pretty much single-handedly preventing global warming.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Thermodynamics with Professor Narayanaswamy was a cornerstone of my Columbia experience. While my lifelong passion for compressible flows and the availability of energy inspired a passion for the subject, getting to sit front row at 8:40 am twice a week with the mastermind behind the investigation of dynamics of bi-material AFM cantilevers was truly a revelation. With three midterms, and a weekly 10-hour problem set to solidify my understanding of the material, I’ll never forget how to model a Brayton cycle. While I may have to google Foucault to understand my CC peers’ conversations (pronounced Foo-Koh, not Faux-Cult as I have been informed), I rest easy knowing energy can neither be created nor destroyed in an isolated system.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I subsist on Parmesan, so I won’t be giving it up.

Whom would you like to thank? My Senior Design team, the entirety of EC 1206, the Columbia Package Center (the JJ’s of mail), former bwog queen Amara Banks, Bombay Frankie (and his Roti Rolls), my professors (most of them, at least), blue java iced coffee (bad but has saved my life), my parents, and my dog Remy. Not the 1 train.

One thing to do before graduating: I moved my whole NYC apartment into my EC suite – and bought a stove. Now I have to figure out what to do with the truck load of furniture and art in my dorm. Anybody want to buy a pull-out couch?

Any regrets? As you may know, there are number of elderly folks who were former students and use Butler Library. Well, one day, I vaguely recognized a man in Butler but decided it was an impossible coincidence so I awkwardly made for the nearest doorway. This happened a few more times before I finally ran into him dead-on in a narrow hallway. I had no way out. He slowly began to wave. And then it came to me – this old man of Butler was none other than my 80-year-old cousin from Thanksgiving a few months ago. Henry – I regret not saying hi the first time.