Skip to main content

Cornell Engineering

Cornell Tech Update

The new campus has welcomed its first class, hired an associate dean, and won NYC Planning Commission approval. 

Program 'hubs' define Cornell Tech

Instead of traditional departments, programs at the new Cornell Tech campus will be organized around "hubs," or interdisciplinary units that bring together different expertise centered on industries already established in New York City, said the Joseph Silbert Dean of the College of Engineering, Lance Collins.

This approach is adopted from the venture capital community.

"Hubs will allow us to focus on generating technology to serve particular industry sectors," said Collins, adding, "the objective is to yield businesses. We are also all about job creation." 

Cornell has greater credibility in this venture than some may realize, the dean pointed out. When developing the proposal for the campus in 2011, Cornell asked alums if they had started a business in the past five years. The university learned that Cornellians reported that they had created 2,600 businesses, employing 34,000 people and amounting to 10.5 billion dollars in venture capital—comparing very favorably to MIT and other peer institutions.

The first industry hubs are Connective Media, the Built Environment, and Healthier Life. Connective Media covers advertising, entertainment, finance, publishing, and retail; Healthier Life covers healthcare insurance, medical devices, and medical information systems. The Built Environment includes architectural design, construction, energy, and transportation.

Industry experts, researchers, and leaders from Cornell Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medical College, and partner university Technion Israel Institute of Technology have been sharing ideas on the Healthier Life hub. Among the many ideas are patient- centered healthcare technologies, mobile health sensor-enabled smartphones, improved electronic medical records, and human-implanted and biomorphic electronic chips.

Another unique aspect of the Cornell Tech program is that every student will have an industry mentor. More than 4,500 Cornell alumni have indicated willingness to serve in this capacity. Such networking will not only provide students strong business connections, but also encourage them to stay in New York City after graduation.

Faculty and graduate students from programs outside engineering and computer science, some housed in Ithaca, will contribute to the multidisciplinary curriculum. Programs currently include interdisciplinary work with the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Cornell Tech arrives at land use milestone

Cornell Tech entered into the seven-month land use review process, which is marked by releasing new images of the Roosevelt island campus with renderings of the first academic building.

"The campus plan was designed to be open to everyone, and we look forward to sharing this unique vision with all New Yorkers over the next seven months and beyond" said Cathy Dove, vice president of Cornell Tech.

"While we officially start the public review process, Cornell Tech has worked hard over the past months to create a robust dialogue with our new neighbors on Roosevelt Island and across the city."

"Just as Cornell Tech will be pioneering new approaches to graduate research and education, our campus won't look like any other university campus that exists today," said Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of Cornell Tech. "We are determined to innovate in every aspect of the development, from the way that students, faculty, researchers, industry, and the community are intermingled, to the sustainability of our buildings and their iconic architecture."

The campus will capture views of the Manhattan and Queens skylines and add 2.6 acres of new public open space to the Island. Outdoor and indoor spaces are connected and enhanced by a large public café that spills into open spaces from the ground floor of the academic building.

The designer of the campus master plan is Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, LLP. The first academic building is designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects. Construction is expected to begin in 2014. The first phase, expected to be complete in 2017 includes the first academic building, a corporate co-location building, an executive education center with hotel facilities, and a residential building for students, faculty, and staff.

First endowed professorshiphonors Robert Tishman '37

The announcement of its first endowed professorship, the Robert V. Tishman Founder's Chair, brings Cornell Tech to another milestone and supports one of its top academic priorities, attracting star faculty.

The $5 million endowment includes $3 million in unrestricted funds from Tishman's estate and $2 million from Tishman Speyer Properties for a professorship in the areas of computer science, information science, electrical or computer engineering.

Tishman '37 was founding chairman of Tishman Speyer Properties, one of the largest real estate companies in the world, valued at more than $30 billion, with offices on three continents and a portfolio of more than 77 million square feet. Although Tishman died in 2010 at age 94 before the 2011 announcement of the Cornell Tech campus, "the combination of a major educational facility in New York City that was engaged in the development of information technology would have been truly exciting for him," said Tishman's daughter, Lynne Handler.

Manohar named associate dean at Cornell Tech

Rajit Manohar, professor of electrical and computer engineering, was named associate dean for academic affairs for the Cornell

Tech campus in November.

Manohar serves as a half-time faculty member at Cornell Tech and half time at Cornell in Ithaca. At the tech campus, he will teach a course called Physical Computing, which provides a hands-on introduction to the resources for designing and fabricating smart systems using hardware components. These include sensors and sensor networks; analog instrumentation; embedded digital processing; graphics and I/O (input/output) chips; flash memory; wired and wireless communications; PCB (printed circuit board) layout and fabrication.

"Rajit exemplifies the kind of faculty that we are hiring as we build Cornell Tech, combining research excellence, innovative teaching, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit," said Huttenlocher.

Said Collins: "As associate dean for research and graduate education, Rajit has been actively promoting the college's entrepreneurial activity, but his new appointment at Cornell Tech will elevate his impact to a whole new level."

Manohar joins a growing group of personnel that includes Dean Dan Huttenlocher, Vice President Cathy Dove, Chief Entrepreneurial Officer Greg Pass and Professor Deborah Estrin.

Community board approves Cornell Tech campus plan

Manhattan Community Board 8 approved Cornell Tech's Roosevelt Island campus plan as part of New York City's public land use review process. The plan now continues through the process with review by the Manhattan borough president, followed by the City Planning Commission and City Council. The Community Board's approval came exactly one year after Cornell, with its academic partner the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was selected by the city to develop the applied science and engineering campus.

"Roosevelt Island has a fantastic history of innovation and civic participation, but we were still gratified by the interest and support of so many islanders from day one," said Dove.

"We are appreciative for the support of our new neighbors and assure them that the construction and operation of the campus will be handled in a way that protects, respects, and welcomes the rest of the island. We look forward to continuing the dialogue about this innovative new campus with New Yorkers during the public review process and beyond."

Cornell Tech welcomes its first class of students

Many months of planning have brought Cornell Tech to perhaps its most significant milestone yet: the arrival of its first class of students.

Cornell Tech began instruction for its "beta" class of eight full-time students pursuing a one-year Cornell Master of Engineering degree in computer science.

The small, highly selective class is comprised of Computer Sciences Master of Engineering students with a wide range of technical experience and backgrounds who share an entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding academic credentials, said Cornell Tech officials.

The program is being housed at Cornell Tech's temporary campus in the Chelsea neighborhood, in space donated by Google.

"We couldn't be more excited with the level of talent that has been attracted to Cornell Tech to launch this innovative new program in the heart of New York City," said Huttenlocher. "Our beta class will help shape the campus moving forward, and this group has the entrepreneurial spirit and technical talent to go out and make a difference in the world."

"It's hard to believe that just more than a year after being chosen to create this campus, we are already welcoming our first class of students," said Dove. "Our temporary campus in Chelsea is already buzzing with activity, even as we continue working with our future neighbors on Roosevelt Island on the development of our permanent campus."

Cornell Tech is offering a distinctive model of graduate tech education that fuses educational excellence with real-world commercial applications and technology entrepreneurship, rooted in the latest academic research. Students, faculty, and industry experts will learn and work together to launch ideas and create new ventures that have global impact.

The campus aims to attract the best and brightest in technology, immerse them in an entrepreneurial culture with deep ties to the local business community, and spur the creation of new companies and new industries in New York City.

"When fully built, Cornell Tech will ultimately revolutionize New York City's economy for the long term," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Applied Sciences NYC initiative designated Cornell in December 2011 to build and operate the new campus. "But the school is also having an immediate impact, attracting the next generation of talented engineers and boosting the city's growing reputation as a world-renowned hub of the technology sector."

Academic courses will be conducted Monday through Thursday, with Fridays used for a practicum on Entrepreneurial Life that includes interactive workshops and activities. In addition to the formal curriculum, the program will provide opportunities for engagement with industry, practitioners, and community members. Each student, in addition to having an academic adviser, will undertake a master's project working closely with a mentor from a company, nonprofit, or an early-stage investor.

All degrees will reflect the mission of the campus: technical excellence with a focus on collaborative projects, industry mentors, and entrepreneurship and business.

Cornell Tech receives Manhattan borough president's support

The Cornell NYC Tech project has received conditional approval from a key player in the city's development process: Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer.

Stringer has expressed support for the proposed tech campus on Roosevelt Island, which is part of the district of Manhattan. In developing his Uniform Land Use Review Procedure recommendation, Stringer secured commitments to pursue several modifications to the project, which include construction mitigation, the creation of a community advisory committee on open space, expanding the hours of the campus open space, expansion of the red bus service during periods of construction, and commitment to study co-generation and pedestrian access to the Queensboro Bridge.

"Borough President Stringer has been a true leader in supporting and guiding the growth of New York's tech sector, and we're extremely grateful for his support of Cornell Tech," said Skorton. "Cornell Tech will help drive economic development in New York for years to come, but we know the campus will only be a success if we are good neighbors. We are grateful for the borough president's support and are committed to addressing the matters he raised as part of our ongoing effort to ensure that this campus respects and partners with the Roosevelt Island community."

NYC Planning Commission approves Cornell Tech Plan

The New York City Planning Commission approved Cornell Tech's Roosevelt Island campus plan as part of the city's public land use review process. The plan now continues to the final stage in the process with review by the New York City Council.

 "We are grateful to Chair Burden and the City Planning Commission for engaging in such a thorough analysis of the campus plan and ultimately offering their full support," said Dove. "At each step in this review process we have gained valuable insight and been able to improve our plan, and we look forward to continuing that dialogue with the City Council."