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Schechter Alum Profile: Barry Scharfman, SSLI Class of 2005

November 14, 2013
By SSLI Communications

This month we profile Barry Scharfman, Schechter LI Class of 2005.  Barry is currently a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and working at the Experimental Hydrodynamics Laboratory there.  He completed his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and received two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics as well as Operations and Information Management from the Wharton School.  This past summer Barry presented a new 3D imaging camera system that he is developing at the 10th International Symposium on Particle Image Velocimetry in the Netherlands.  An accomplished scientist and engineer, Barry took the time to reflect on his days at Schechter and how his education and experiences affected his life and decisions.


What was your favorite memory of Schechter?

Barry:    Celebrating chagim was always nice from elementary school through high school.  Sukkot was always fun.  I remember bringing my lulav and etrog on the bus to school.  Purim carnivals were also memorable.  One year in Middle School Josh Hollander and I dressed up as the Mario Bros.

Who was your favorite teacher?

Barry:  Mr. Itzkowitz had a large impact on me and my career path.  I took two physics courses from him, which influenced me to pursue Mechanical Engineering as my college major.  The whole field of physics really fascinated me.  Mr. Itzkowitz always got us thinking about interesting problems in new ways.

What clubs/activities were you involved in in HS?

Barry:    I was an intramural captain of the handball club.  When I went back to Glen Cove for an alumni event, there was a sign posted saying “NO BALL PLAYING,” which disappointed me because handball was the biggest phenomenon at school.  So many people got involved and it brought us together at lunch time and whenever we had time to play.  The competition was very fierce.  I was also co-captain of Mathletes and the Editor-in-Chief of the Lion’s Roar newspaper.

Have you stayed in touch with other alumni?  If so, who? 

Barry:    Josh Hollander, Areal Tal, Allison Adges and Shira Klayman.

What was the one thing you learned at Schechter that has stuck with you?

Barry:    Jewish values.  How to live a life of values was emphasized from the beginning.  The knowledge that I gained from the physics and math courses that I took has remained with me throughout my engineering career.

Have you stayed involved in the Jewish community?

Barry:    I have been involved at Hillel at UPenn and MIT.  I regularly lead services and read Torah.

How did Schechter prepare you for your chosen profession or path?

Barry:    Schechter prepared me well in terms of the fundamentals.  Bob Winston’s calculus courses taught me many key mathematical concepts that I still use today.  I wish we had had the engineering program that Schechter has now, which would better prepare students for the path that I took. This is especially because many high school students don’t know much about the field of engineering.  It is important to expose students to different types of engineering disciplines.

What would you like to say to our current students?

Barry:    It is definitely getting harder to be accepted at top schools.  Having many different extracurricular activities both at school and beyond has always been important. Students should explore the many opportunities that are available to better prepare themselves for college.               

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