professor
Ismail C. Noyan

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Oct 2013

Treat yourself to a class with Professor Noyan—for at least a semester, you’ll become a “gentleperson.” Columbia (particularly SEAS) has its fair share of Ben Stein “Bueller… Ferris… Bueller”-esque professors, but Professor Noyan falls decidedly outside this group. A lecture with Noyan is much more than an exercise in blackboard transcription. Starting on the first day of Atomic Scale Engineering, he greeted us by name (as “Mr. __” or “Ms. __”) and engaged us with questions about the material, cracking jokes and jumping about with more energy than 90% of the class. The course had no required textbook, and the lectures explored curiosities about the workings of the world: What is color? How do lasers, refrigerators, and fiber optics work? How do you make a superior sword? The lectures benefit not just from Professor Noyan’s personality, but also from his work at IBM and various national laboratories. You’ll solve problems involving everything from toilet making to turkey cooking, and discuss some philosophy, history, art, and architecture in between. Noyan’s teaching style was much the same for Elements of Materials Science, though due to the larger class size and foundational nature of the course, the lectures and homework followed a course textbook closely. Good luck, “chaps.”

May 2010

Professor Noyan is an incredibly intelligent and engaging lecturer. That being said, this class is a hefty one, far beyond your typical 1xxx level course. The work load is not heavy, but the concepts discussed in this class are fairly advanced and will cover a large amount of material. This was an extremely rewarding class with a moderately difficult midterm and a somewhat easier final. It was easily my favorite class of the semester.

Dec 2008

I disagree with the reviews of Professor Noyan. He does (try to) have a sense of humor, which is usually a welcome trait in professors. However, his sense of humor usually manifests itself in cold-calling students in class, and then mocking them for not knowing the answer. He is also not all that "approachable"-- his office hour consists of one hour during which you make an appointment in advance. It is nice how short the homework assignments usually are. However, Noyan has an odd practice of adding "ad hoc" homework questions to the assignment, which usually stem from one of his cold calling questions-- if you can't answer, it's homework for everyone. Aside from being annoying, this also means you have to attend every class to make sure you know what the ad hoc questions are, because there is no other record of them. The third problem I had with this class is that it covers an insurmountable amount of material. It is impossible to grasp all of the material with the depth that Noyan desires on his tests. The syllabus was reasonable, and had the class covering approximately Ch 2-10, 12, and 18 of the textbook by the last week of class. Somehow he covered all of this way early, and so added five more chapters of material. Ridiculous! The material in this class is actually quite interesting and the conceptuality/memorization is in a way a nice break from all of the processing of the rest of the curriculum, but I would not rate this class or professor to be superior in any way.

Jan 2008

Great lecturer, great course. He has a lot of vitality and really puts forth a lot of energy for his courses and his students. You will come to love this professor -- one of the best I've had. Please realize that this is a survey course and needs to cover TONS of material; you don't go into things very deeply, but it is a lot of information to know. As such, you'll need to study by memorization for the midterm and final. Overall the workload is not bad, but you learn some really great things about how the world works around you. I always heartily recommend this course for almost anyone I meet (esp. engineering/science majors) because of both the things you learn and the great professor.

May 2005

Professor Noyan is brilliant, engaging, enthusiastic, and occasionally humorous. It's impossible not to like him. That being said, this is one of the most difficult classes I've ever taken, and most students in the class will remain until the very end completely puzzled as to what is expected of them. There is a TON of material, and it is all very dense. Sometimes it seems that he expects us to know too much going into the class, and the notes we get in class are often the kind that we can't even make an effort to try to understand them. This is a sink-or-swim class, albeit with a great professor.

May 2005

I completely agree with what the previous review said, and much more. He knew the material front-back and had no problem whatsoever conveying it in an absolutely engaging way. He always got the class involved, with the questions and very frequently went off on interesting tangents that if nothing else, give you some cool facts, but usually, apply what your learning about to the real world. He was not only completely approachable and understanding, but even took the whole class, (albeit 10 people) on a field trip to the IBM 300 mm manufacturing plant in upstate New York. He is definately one of the best professors I've had at Columbia, and I would highly recommend him for any class.

Apr 2004

This is the best course I've taken in the engineering school, and Noyan may be the best professor I've had at Columbia. The class is a whirlwind tour of everything you need to know about materials science (and since the rest of the classes in this department are so bad, this may be all you ever learn) and Noyan is a superb tour guide. He is passionate, funny, enthusiastic, brilliant, straightforward, and a simply outstanding professor. He does use powerpoint slides, but he only picks out the important stuff and is absolutely willing and capable of turning them off and teaching on the blackboard. (He does so quite often for the harder derivations and things you should pay a great deal of attention to.) He knows this material inside and out, loves questions from the gallery (even tangential ones), and really brings his real world engineering knowledge to the table in meaningful ways. He's full of practical advice for life, for engineering, for basically everything - and all he wants is to share the knowledge with you. He's totally interactive (there's no wall between the lectern and the students), and thus he can be a little intimidating at the start because he does like to drill individual students on the material from the previous week throughout the class. It seems scary/embarassing/annoying but once you know what's going on, you find that his drilling has really made you get the material in your head. And you understand it enough to explain it back to him. It's awesome. Even though the professor is swell, this class isn't a breeze just due to the sheer amount of material you have to get through. However, he's such a great teacher that if you just try a little, you'll learn a whole lot. He tests you much more on understanding than application, so his tests are completely do-able from your notes (think essays explaining a concept rather than problems applying a concept) and getting a good grade is a likely possiblity. Basically, Noyan's engaging teaching style and amazingly comprehensive knowledge of just about everything ever makes this class everything typical SEAS classes aren't. So, if you're up for a challenge and actually want to get something out of a class, Noyan's the man to help you do that. Don't get fooled into majoring in MSAE because this class is great though - nothing on the MSAE track after this is half as good...