CornellNYC Tech is now accepting applications for its first class of full-time students, the University announced Wednesday in a joint statement with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The admitted students will be offered enrollment in a highly selective, one-year Master of Engineering degree program for computer science that will run for two semesters, beginning in January 2013.
Admissions to the inaugural class will be rolling and begin immediately, according to NYC Tech Campus Dean Daniel Huttenlocher. The deadline or admissions is Oct. 1.
“Very strong students will get pretty quick feedback,” Huttenlocher said.
The first batch of students in the pilot degree program, dubbed the “beta class,” will study in the first of what will be multiple degree offerings by the time the Roosevelt Island campus is completed in 2017. The beta class will consist of 15 to 20 students “with a strong undergraduate education in computer science or a closely related field, who seek advanced credentials for employment in industry or for deeper technological experience to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams,” according to the join statement. The class size is subject to change to accommodate the space confines of the temporary campus.
“The size of the class depends a lot on the number, background and caliber of applicants,” Huttenlocher told The Sun on Wednesday. “[We are looking for] students who have combined a good undergraduate technology degree with a real passion for making a difference with technology.”
Students accepted into the pilot degree program will be housed in a temporary location in Chelsea, New York, in residences provided by Google’s New York Headquarters, an arrangement that was announced by President David Skorton, Google CEO Larry Paige and Mayor Bloomberg on May 21.
Students seeking a Master of Engineering degree from the University can apply to either the Ithaca or NYC campus; they will not be able to transfer between the two. While both programs will provide graduates with the same degree credentials, Huttenlocher said in his statement that applicants for the NYC Tech program will be expected to have “strong entrepreneurial interests, leadership skills and a passion for community engagement.”
He added that the degree from the NYC campus will have a distinct “entrepreneurial twist,” making the program “less like an engineering or science school and more like a business school.”
This will include an emphasis on business and applied technology that differs from the Masters of Engineering degree currently offered at the Ithaca campus, according to Huttenlocher. In Ithaca, for example, masters students can take elective credits in any course of study; at NYC Tech, all classes not related to technology must be business-oriented.
Huttenlocher said that the NYC Tech pilot degree program seeks to emulate other Cornell schools, such as the Johnson Graduate School of Management and Cornell Law School. Classes will be held only on Mondays to Thursdays, while Fridays are reserved for an elective activity — often a full-day workshop, a business seminar, a meeting with a technology industry leader, or a class in public speaking — meant to inculcate real-world business skills in NYC Tech students.
The prestige of a spot in the “beta class” comes with an unprecedented opportunity to shape the course of the NYC Tech school, which will one day host hundreds of graduate students and offer eight degree programs — five one-year Cornell masters programs and three variations of a two-year dual-degree Masters of Science program with Cornell and the Technion - Israel Institute for Technology — according to Huttenlocher. While he said that “it is a stretch” to expect all eight programs to be available by the official unveiling of the campus in 2017, Huttenlocher noted that at least five will have started by then.
As the first to be introduced, the computer science program has become a sort of trial, Huttenlocher said.
“Whenever you’re trying something new, it becomes a kind of experiment,” Huttenlocher said. “What we learn from this program will help us influence all the other programs.”
Huttenlocher said that he expects the degree program to undergo gradual shifts before the Roosevelt Island campus opens.
“Usually, when we begin a new masters’ program, we like to start small so we can work out the kinks,” Huttenlocher said.
There will be three full-time faculty teaching at the temporary campus in Chelsea, as well as several professors, most of whom are tenured, at Ithaca. The professors in Ithaca will contribute on a part-time basis to the business and entrepreneurial side of the degree program. In addition, Huttenlocher said that he expects individuals in the New York City technology industry to serve as “industry mentors,” who will oversee student’s progress alongside faculty advisors.
New York City is counting on the interaction between the beta class and the local tech industries to boost the city’s tech industry even before the Tech Campus is fully operational, according to New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky.
“Before long, this beta class at Cornell NYC Tech will begin developing cutting-edge technologies and new spin-off companies that will strengthen the City’s economy and ensure that we continue to establish ourselves as a global hub of innovation for the future,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
While the applied science campus is the product of an international academic partnership and will be situated in one of the world’s largest cities, Huttenlocher said that even with this first degree program, his aspirations for NYC Tech are at least somewhat rooted in the hills of Ithaca.
“We’re hoping for a great number of Cornell kids among the applicants,” he said.