Innovative. Entrepreneurial. Collaborative. And, of course, a computer science whiz.
These are the characteristics professors in the College of Engineering cited when asked to describe the ideal CornellNYC Tech campus student.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that CornellNYC Tech, the University’s applied sciences campus in Roosevelt Island, has begun accepting a “beta” class of students into its Master of Engineering program in computer science.
Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the tech campus, said Wednesday that the NYC campus will be “less like an engineering or science school and more like a business school.”
Because the tech campus will have a focus on business, prospective students must “have the highest academic credentials, demonstrate strong entrepreneurial interests, leadership skills and a passion for community engagement,” according to the campus’ website.
Additionally, Prof. Joseph Halpern, computer science, stressed that an ideal candidate should have prior experience in a computer science field.
“If an applicant has evidence that he or she has done something in that space before, that might help an application,” Halpern said. “We’re looking for people with that extra edge and are particularly interested in entrepreneur[ship] … students who are really interested in taking their ideas and bringing them to the real world.”
Although Cornell’s Ithaca campus also offers a one-year Master of Engineering program in computer science, Prof. Ken Birman, computer science, said students pursuing the degree at the tech campus will find more freedom in exploring courses.
“A lot of Ithaca’s structure allows us to have students not so sure of what they want to do … and we can turn that student into whoever he or she wants to be,” Birman said. “There are lots of places and lots of paths that people can follow.”
In contrast, CornellNYC Tech will be more focused on specific fields and practices. While students in Ithaca will be able to take elective courses in any field, NYC students may only take business-oriented classes for their electives.
According to Birman, this structured curriculum will allow graduates to work in an environment that mirrors that of a start-up.
“Students are going to be working as a team and they’re going to be working closely with a set of three faculty members. Projects will be in the Google facilities … and mentored by people who are in the industry at startups,” Birman said. “So they’re going to have a special type of environment, and it’s going to make it feel like a team program.”
In spite of this difference between the Ithaca and NYC campuses’ masters programs, “in both cases, we’re looking for people who are interested in learning computer science and applying computer science ideas,” Halpern said.
Jeremy Blum ’12, who is currently working towards an Master of Engineering in electrical and computer engineering, said an ideal candidate for the tech campus would be a risk-taker who is not afraid to make mistakes. The “beta” class would particularly have to embody these characteristics, as it will be “shaping the program for future Cornellians,” he said.
“The feeling I get from the tech campus and the graduate program is that it’s really geared toward people who need the hands-on experience and will take what they’re learning and apply it to the real world,” Blum said. “I wouldn’t say it’s better than the Ithaca campus methodology — it’s just different. It’s for a different kind of person.”
Jesse McElwain ’13 –– who has promoted a media campaign for CornellNYC through Cornell University Sustainable Design –– said that his impression is that the Ithaca campus, in comparison with the tech campus, is more focused on “the theory behind [computer science] and theoretical applications.”
In contrast, “to really optimize your opportunity at Cornell Tech would be to embrace the culture there, which is commercialism entrepreneurialism,” McElwain said. “It’s important to figure out how to apply [your skills] to a real world setting to actually leverage an impact on the world and society.”
McElwain said the tech campus is an exciting opportunity for computer science-savvy students looking to attend graduate school.
“It’s a new model of education that we’re implementing … and if there’s a student who’s looking to take on problems of tomorrow, and even today, then this is the right place,” McElwain said.