Professor Tony Cioffi is chair of the Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology Department at City Tech. His involvement with the Early College partnership at City Poly started in 2008, when he played an instrumental role in designing the scope and sequence for City Poly’s engineering courses. Professor Cioffi is also a former board member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and started the first ASCE sponsored high school civil engineering club at City Poly. Today, he sits down with NYCAN to talk engineering, early college and how high expectations lead to extraordinary student achievement.
NYCAN: What was your goal when you were crafting the engineering courses?
Prof. Cioffi: The engineering courses were designed with an emphasis in the fields of civil engineering and architecture. We wanted the courses to have a real world feel. Example problems would be as realistic as possible while enforcing the fundamentals of science and math. We wanted the students to see how math and science could be used in real world applications. Student projects are an integral part of each course. We also wanted to make sure that class would somehow be tied to the Regent Exams.
NYCAN: How have students responded to the courses? Is it what you expected?
Prof. Cioffi: The students have responded very well. This is evident by the quality of the student work. The models and assignments that students have generated were amazing. The students are engaged in the class and the work. This has also allowed the teachers to be creative and step outside the box. Theses types of classes help to motivate students and allow them to explore the fields of engineering and architecture.
NYCAN: Is there a particular “success story” from those classes that comes to mind?
Prof. Cioffi: Success for me was seeing the first graduating class. Approximately, 80 to 85 of the students have enrolled in our college (New York City College of Technology/CUNY). This was always one of the primary goals. We hoped that students would be ready for college after their third year of high school. Most of our students complete four years of academic work in just three years. Of these, 15-18 graduates have chosen Civil Engineering of Construction Management as a career path. This is a success story in it self.
NYCAN: What do you hope students will accomplish with the skills they learned in your courses?
Prof. Cioffi: I hope that the students will have a true understanding of civil engineering and architecture. We hoped that they would see the many different careers paths that exist within these fields. We also hoped that they would be truly prepared for college. Engineering and architecture develops leadership, analytical and organizational skills. It can be a springboard for several other professions. It ties in well with law, business and several other career paths. We hoped that these qualities or soft skills were a part of their high school experience as well as academic excellence. We want students to succeed in whatever career or direction that they choose to pursue in the future.
NYCAN: How would you like to grow the program in the future?
Prof. Cioffi: My hope is that City Poly high school is truly recognized as a top school in New York City. We hope that City Poly continues to grow and develop students. My hope is that more students will choose civil engineering as a career path and that City Poly is a leader in this area. Civil engineering is a people-serving profession.
This is part of a weeklong NYCAN series in honor of Early College High School week.