With the current high rate of contagiousness and infection from Omicron, we have made the decision to conduct all January classes remotely and to require, with limited exceptions, all employees without essential on-campus duties during this period to work from home through January 28th.  For more information on Covid-19 and the start of spring semester, please use this link to our Covid Response page.  

The Benjamin Menschel Fellowship Program

'Jaffa' (installation view) by Dorit Aviv AR'09, part of the 2009 Menschel Exhibition

'Jaffa' (installation view) by Dorit Aviv AR'09, part of the 2009 Menschel Exhibition

The Benjamin Menschel Fellowship Program to Support Creative Inquiry was endowed by a grant given to The Cooper Union by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation in 1994 to support work in the fields of art, architecture, design and engineering. This generous grant was intended to provide funding to exceptional students who propose scholarly, independent projects that will in some way provide a culmination to their educational endeavors at The Cooper Union. It is the hope of the Goldsmith Foundation that the students designated as Benjamin Menschel Fellows will be encouraged by their awards to complete bodies of artwork, develop scientific protocols, or otherwise further their intellectual investigations in a manner that will provide inspiration and illumination to the community as a whole.

View the catalogs from years past.

Important Note for 2021-22

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, campus closures and Cooper-mandated travel restrictions, the Menschel Fellowship will not be able to support or fund any travel expenses for the 2021-22 cycle. However, costs associated with things like licensing or acquiring images, maps, datasets, commissioning some specific work to be conducted at other locations, etc. can be supported.

This difficult decision is keeping with Federal and State recommendations with respect to travel, as well as the Cooper Union’s policy regarding non-essential travel. We are aware that COVID-19 presents a rapidly changing challenge. While vaccines give us hope that the pandemic will end soon, new mutations are resulting in more infectious, potentially vaccine-resistant strains of the virus. Research travel requires careful planning. In order to ensure that the funding opportunity remains available, albeit in a temporarily modified form, the Menschel Fellowship will, this year, instead support independent projects that creatively adapt to this moment and push the boundaries of research projects using means besides travel.

The Menschel Fellows for 2020-21 were forced, mid-way into the selection process, to adapt to the pandemic and re-frame their projects such that they could be completed remotely. Please visit the 2020-21 Menschel Show (opening Feb 15, 2021 at 41CS) for powerful examples of the kind of research work that could be possible in spite of travel restrictions.

Application 2021

The Benjamin Menschel Fellowships will be awarded in the spring of 2021 for use during the summer of 2021 and Fall 2021 semester. The fellowships will be made on the basis of merit to students who have attended The Cooper Union for at least one year and who will be enrolled for the 2020–2021 academic year.

For the 2021-22 cycle, students are strongly encouraged to apply in groups of two or more students, and ideally interdisciplinary groups across the schools. You are invited to consider research topics that allow you to pursue your interests while remaining conscious of the various social, scientific and artistic challenges that we face as a society.

Fellowships are intended to cover eligible expenses for materials used to complete the proposed project, up to a maximum of $3000 per project. For the 2021-22 cycle, the Menschel Fellowship will not support travel-related funding and the maximum amount has been adjusted to reflect this fact. Depending on the level of interest and quality of submissions, we hope to support a larger number of projects than some previous years as a result.

Students who are awarded Fellowships must agree to exhibit or present their work publicly during the following academic year. Winners are expected to reserve up to 25% of their fellowship for the exhibition expenses.

The intent of the award is to support independent projects that are not subject to evaluation for grades in courses.

Conditions of Eligibility

To be considered for a Benjamin Menschel Fellowship, a student must meet the following criteria. For group projects, each applicant must meet these criteria.

  1. Be a full-time matriculating student at The Cooper Union with a minimum of two semesters remaining before graduation, excluding the present one;
  2. Be in good academic standing; and
  3. Provide a letter of support from a faculty member willing to evaluate the project proposed by the student and to attest to the student s ability to complete the project.

Application Details

Applications must be submitted online via the Menschel Fellowship Application form


Application Deadline: End of Day, Wednesday March 3, 2021.

  1. Applications from groups, and especially interdisciplinary groups across schools, are strongly encouraged.

Faculty Evaluations Deadline: End of Day, Friday, March 5, 2021

  1. No file will be reviewed without the faculty evaluation.
  2. Late applications will not be reviewed.

Semifinalists will be interviewed by the Faculty Review Committee in late March 2021.
Finalists will be notified by early April 2021.

Application Instructions

  1. Complete the Menschel Fellowship Application form.
  2. In addition to biographical details about your team and details about your faculty advisor, you must upload three documents that accurately describe the work you intend to complete using the Fellowship monies:
    1. A rationale for the project in creative inquiry that explains the intellectual, social, scientific, or cultural issues you intend to engage with.
    2. A schedule for completing the project and presenting your work.
    3. A detailed budget that accurately reflects the expenses you anticipate. The budget should be tabulated with all the expense headings marked, and totals calculated.
  3. Your documents should be typed and uploaded in PDF format. Applicants are encouraged to visit the Center for Writing for assistance in drafting their proposals.
  4. Secure a letter of support from a Faculty Evaluator using the Letter of Support form.

Selection Process

  1. The Menschel Committee, which is composed of one faculty member from each of the three Schools and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, will review all applications and select a roster of semifinalists to be interviewed.
  2. Appointments for these interviews will be made for the last week of March, 2021.
  3. While a well-conceived, carefully written proposal is essential to the selection process, semifinalists may choose to supplement their proposals with a portfolio
    or other visual materials relevant to their proposal when they appear for their interviews.
  4. At the interview, semifinalists should be prepared to make a formal presentation of no more than 15 minutes; questions from the Committee will follow.
  5. If appropriate, semifinalists may also request that, at the time of the interview, the Committee visit their studio or work space to view relevant materials.

Notification of Fellowship Awards

You will be notified by email as to whether you have been selected for a Benjamin Menschel Fellowship.

Menschel Fellows will be announced by early April, 2021.


Ninad Pandit
Menschel Fellowship Program Director

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.