Cornell Tech Campus Welcomes Inaugural Class

January 22, 2013 12:43 am0 comments
Tyler Alicea

As students returned to a snowy Ithaca campus Monday, their counterparts at Cornell NYC Tech attended the first day of classes at Google’s headquarters in Manhattan, their temporary campus.

Although there was no ribbon-cutting ceremony or fanfare to herald the start of the tech campus’ program, Monday marked a new chapter in the University’s ambitious tech campus venture. Cornell won the right to build the school in New York City in December 2011.

Tech campus officials had been working since last January to prepare for the school’s opening, according to Cathy Dove, vice president of Cornell NYC Tech.

“We needed to make sure that we thought of all of the processes and procedures that ‘just happen’ in Ithaca for the start of an academic program,” she said.

Since winning the bid for the tech campus, University officials have been working to create a curriculum, find a campus site and recruit “excellent” faculty at the tech campus, according to Dove.

As part of its plans, the tech campus has launched its one-year, masters of engineering in computer science program in ­­­­­­­January, rather than in the fall. The move, officials said, was made to ensure that class sizes would remain small.

“One benefit of beginning in January is that an off-cycle start allowed us to start with a deliberately small beta program,” Dove said.

The eight students currently enrolled at the tech campus will have an opportunity to shape the future of CornellNYC Tech, according to Huttenlocher.

“The beta terminology really refers to the smaller, more personal nature of the classes, and the opportunity to help shape the campus as the very first students,” he said. Despite being the first group of students to go through Cornell NYC Tech’s program, the “beta” class will still have access to various components of the tech campus program, including having access to leaders in the tech industry.

“The technical and business courses, the Friday practicums and the masters projects with industry mentors –– which are the main components of the NYC programs –– are all in place for this semester,” Huttenlocher said.

Not everyone, however, is happy with the start of classes at the tech campus. 

Monday evening, a group known as New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership distributed leaflets and gathered signatures outside the tech campus’ current offices, protesting Cornell’s partnership with Technion because of its political implications.

“The Technion is complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians,” the group posted on Facebook.

The NYACT has been urging Cornell and New York City to end their partnership with Technion, according to the group’s Facebook page. 

Huttenlocher, however, said that he believes the partnership is beneficial because it will allow the University to offer dual masters of science degrees and join other top institutions who engage in the world.

“The Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute continues that tradition, bringing one of the world’s strongest technology universities to our new campus in New York City,” he said.