It’s no secret that Cornell and Stanford are both gunning for NYC’s applied science and tech campus initiative. I’m obviously biased here, but I’m not the only one who thinks there are a few pretty compelling reasons that Cornell would be the best choice for the city.
- Cornell already has an active and engaged alumni base in NYC. We’ve got a huge network of alumni (including the Cornell Angel Network) who stay in New York after graduation. Scott Belsky makes a great point that a good portion of the existing Cornell network is already in New York and that the network effects of the existing alumni base will KEEP tech talent in NYC over the long term. I agree.
- Incredible engineering talent and unique programs. MIT and Stanford get a lot of press for their kick-ass engineering programs. Cornell gets less, but having spent a bunch of time in and around the engineering buildings on campus this fall, I have to say that I’m blown away by some of the talent here. The biggest problem is that a lot of the engineering talent isn’t as aware of what’s going on in NYC - a campus in NYC would change that. We’ve also got some non-traditional curricula like Fabric Science and Food Science that I think embody the interesting conflux between technology and other industries (such fashion and food) that are part of the New York culture. Top it off with extracurriculars like BR Venture Fund, the business school’s small $1.5M seed stage venture fund (full disclosure: I’m one of the lucky MBAs that helps run this fund) and you’ve got a really unique set of complements to Cornell’s core engineering program that set it apart from the competition.
- We’re not already in NYC but are still close by. As I’ve been traveling back and forth between NYC and Ithaca, I’m slowly coming to the realization that each place has served a distinct purpose in my development over the past year. This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but the fact that Cornell’s main campus is not in NYC is a good thing. Ithaca is a quiet (albeit brutally cold) safe haven from the bustle of the city. I think there’s a real benefit to being able to learn in an environment that is solely focused on learning. I also think having a campus in NYC and in Ithaca gives students the opportunity to both focus on real world application of their learning (in NYC) and escape for some more introspective learning (in Ithaca).
If you’re interested in more of Cornell’s propsal, check out the Cornell in NYC website here and make sure to follow the twitter account for updates as well! This is a really exciting time for the tech community in NYC and I’m really excited that Cornell has the opportunity to be a bigger part of it than it already is. Whether we win the proposal or not, I have no doubt that our alumni will continue to make a dent in the NYC tech scene for years to come.