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Cornell University Gets Big Donation to Help Fund NYC Tech Campus

Cornell University Gets Big Donation to Help Fund NYC Tech Campus
Image credit: Arch Daily

Cornell University's plan to build a sprawling new campus for technology innovation in New York City just got a significant financial bump. A pair of Cornell alumni has given their alma mater a $133 million gift to allow the Ivy League school to open an interdisciplinary center on the campus, school and city officials announced Monday.

The center, to be called the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, is named after the donors: Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of computer chip manufacturer Qualcomm, and his wife, Joan, who grew up in New York City. The institute -- to be located on the Cornell Tech campus on New York's Roosevelt Island -- was reportedly part of Cornell's original proposal to the city, but the Jacobs' donation will allow the school to move forward more quickly than anticipated.

The institute is expected to offer a two-year dual master's degree program in the information sciences. Students will be able to focus on one of three New York City industries -- media, urban planning and health and wellness, according to a press release.

"Cornell Tech will bring a sharp increase in science and engineering teaching, attract students from around the world, and spin off new local companies and thousands of new jobs," New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference at City Hall.

Here are a few other facts about the school, which is a joint venture with Technion, a Haifa, Israel-based institute of technology:

  • While the full campus won't open until fall 2017, Cornell Tech accepted a "beta" class of eight full-time students in January 2013 for a one-year master of engineering degree in computer science.
     
  • The 12-acre Roosevelt Island campus will eventually be able to house about 2,000 full-time graduate students, who will profit from proximity to New York City's technology industry.
     
  • Starting in 2017, tech startups will lease space on campus and work closely with faculty and students.
     
  • For the time being, Cornell Tech is housed in Google's Manhattan office.

What do you think about Cornell's plan to spur tech innovation in New York City? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Related: Big Ideas in the Big Apple

Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Entrepreneur.com. He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.

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