First class of Technion-Cornell program set to graduate

Set up in 2013, the NY campus expects to produce the next generation of tech leaders, generate billions for city

Members of the first graduating class of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute (Courtesy)
Members of the first graduating class of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute (Courtesy)

After three years, the first class of students at the joint Technion-Cornell University program are set to graduate. Heads of the program, along with Israeli education officials and diplomats, gathered Thursday night in New York to mark the event, which will officially take place on May 29.

The graduating class of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute will mark the first time an international university has ever granted an accredited degree for studies on US soil. Graduates will receive two degrees, one from Israel’s Technion and one from Cornell University. The degrees are being granted to 12 graduates in the area of connective media — technically an MS in information systems.

“These graduating entrepreneurs are armed with the knowledge and experience in areas that are vital to the city’s economic health, and the betterment of society as a whole,” said Professor Adam Shwartz, director of the Jacobs Institute. “We look forward with anticipation to the great things they will accomplish and their impact on the economy, as well as the start-ups they will launch in New York City and beyond.”

The graduation event is the fulfillment of a vision to integrate Israel’s start-up spirit and advanced scientific skills with the vast educational resources of one of the world’s top universities, according to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was mayor when the program was established.

The official campus of the Jacobs Institute is still under construction on Roosevelt Island (the current class studied at other Cornell facilities), and when it is completed, said Bloomberg, it will “make New York City the global capital of technological innovation.” The campus, he said “is one of the most ambitious and forward-looking economic development projects any city has ever undertaken, and it’s going to help add thousands of new jobs to our economy in the decades ahead.”

The joint institute was established in 2013 with a $133 million gift from Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife, Joan Klein Jacobs. The Jacobs Institute’s dual-degree program provides graduates with an international advantage and greater recognition in an increasingly global workforce, said the school.

Based on the building plans, the campus will also be one of the greenest in the United States. The main building will have a solar “cap” with photovoltaic panels taking up the entire roof, providing free electricity. Eventually, Cornell said, the solar energy system will provide power for the whole campus.

Artist's rendering of the Cornell-Technion high-tech campus (Kilograph)
Artist’s rendering of the Cornell-Technion high-tech campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. (Kilograph)

According to analysts the campus will generate more than $23 billion in overall economic activity over the next three decades, and net the city $1.4 billion in taxes. That, in addition to as many as 20,000 construction jobs and up to 8,000 permanent jobs that the campus itself will generate, along with as many as 30,000 jobs to be created by companies that the campus, as a tech incubator, spins off.

“These graduates have strong technical skills, but also skills and knowledge from the social sciences, business and design,” said Mor Naaman, Jacobs Institute professor and founder of the Connective Media program. “Their tech expertise, aimed towards the human and social aspects of media technologies, will be an asset to both established companies and start-ups, especially within communications and media spaces. These graduates are the next generation of this city’s CTOs, product chiefs and tech leaders.”

Technion President Peretz Lavie added: “This remarkable group is a clear example of what can happen when innovation, excellence and a commitment to the improving the lives of people around the world come together.”

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