Message from Cornell Tech

From Dan Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech Cathy Dove, Vice President of Cornell Tech.

Dan Huttenlocher

Cathy Dove

At Cornell NYC Tech, we have been working non-stop since winning New York City’s applied science bid to rethink graduate tech education and build a new sustainable campus in the heart of the city.

It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago Cornell Tech didn’t exist. On December 19, 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg selected Cornell and our academic partner—Technion-Israel Institute of Technology—as the winner of the city’s applied sciences campus competition. Since then, we have made enormous strides in building an innovative new academic program and planning our campus on Roosevelt Island.

Cornell Tech is designed to address two significant issues slowing innovation and economic development in New York and around the country. The first issue is that the enormous growth of New York’s tech sector is being held back by a shortage of top-level tech talent. The second, broader challenge is that the way we innovate and commercialize research ideas in this country is changing, and universities and companies both need to adapt to remain at the forefront of technology innovation. It is time for new thinking about how industry and academia work together. Cornell Tech will help to reduce that friction.

We’re off to a flying start. Just over a year after winning the competition, Cornell Tech welcomed its first students (our “beta class”) in January 2013 to a temporary campus in space donated by Google in its Chelsea headquarters. For our first fall semester, we have approximately 30 students on campus, including Ph.D. students and those enrolled in our one-year Masters of Engineering in computer science. Some of the Masters students have come to Cornell Tech straight from their undergraduate colleges, while others have spent time working in different industries, including defense, government and venture capital. The new students hail from California, Texas, Israel, China and everywhere in between. They are a highly talented, entrepreneurial and diverse group of students, and they have already begun interacting with industry. We look forward to sharing news of their innovative projects and work at the end of the semester.

Earlier this year we announced two new degrees that will launch in the fall of 2014—a one-year MBA in partnership with the Johnson School, and a groundbreaking two-year program  that offers students both Cornell and Technion degrees. The dual degree program will be offered by the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII), named in honor of a $133 million gift from Joan and Irwin Jacobs. The Jacobses are both Cornell alumni who have a long history of supporting Cornell and Technion, and the JTCII is a key component of Cornell Tech. This degree program will allow students to specialize in applied information-based sciences in one of three hubs focused around leading New York City industries—Connective Media, Healthier Life and the Built Environment. The first area of specialization will be in Connective Media and is slated to begin in the fall of 2014. We recently announced at an event with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several industry partners that applications for the Connective Media program are now open.

Additionally, the Johnson MBA at Cornell Tech, which is currently accepting applications, will fuse business, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in a fast-paced, hands-on learning environment. The one-year MBA degree program is for those with a degree in science or technology, as well as relevant work experience, who want to enhance their business knowledge and who desire leadership opportunities in the digital economy. Students learn in the vibrant center of New York City’s global tech ecosystem, following a summer session in Ithaca, New York. The first class begins the program in May 2014 in Ithaca, and spends the following two semesters on the Cornell NYC Tech campus. They will graduate in May 2015 with a deep understanding of how technology is changing the way business works, and as leaders ready to start innovative businesses and transformitive organizations.

Work is also moving forward on plans for the permanent campus, set to break ground in early 2014 and open its doors on Roosevelt Island in 2017. We completed the public review process for the campus in the spring, and were grateful for the overwhelming support of the entire city and especially our new neighbors on Roosevelt Island. The future campus of Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island will be an innovative, sustainable academic campus made up of a combination of academic space, corporate research and development facilities, possibly an executive education center/hotel, and housing. Overall, over two million square feet of new space will be located in a series of architecturally dynamic buildings. For the signature academic building, being designed by by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis, we are aspiring to “net-zero” energy usage.

We have also partnered with Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, to build the first corporate co-location building, with design by innovative architectural firm WEISS/MANFREDI. The corporate co-location building will be located next to the flagship academic building and will provide space for industry—from start-ups to well-established tech companies—to be located on our campus ensuring frequent and deep connections between industry, students, and faculty.

In the meantime, our temporary campus in Chelsea was redesigned over the summer by award-winning architect David Rockwell, and features an innovative open approach that allows maximum flexibility for all of the activities that take place on campus—from lectures to cocktail parties, private study sessions to hackathons.

The final piece of the puzzle is Cornell Tech’s commitment to the community, consistent with the university’s role as New York’s land grant institution. The campus will be playing a major role in the city, and we are focused especially on innovating K-12 tech education, including adoption of the local public school on Roosevelt Island and partnering with several middle schools across the city as well as some of the outstanding organizations in NYC who are committed to improving education for the 1 million New York schoolchildren.

This has been an extremely exciting time, not just for Cornell Tech but for the entire Cornell community. Cornell Tech is truly a graduate school like no other, designed to engage our rapidly evolving global society and ready students, faculty, and partners who want to change the world. As we continue to build this campus and curriculum from scratch, we will be back with periodic updates on our progress. If you want up-to-the-minute campus news follow Cornell Tech on Twitter @cornell_tech