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Calling All Engineers: Cornell NYC Tech Seeking Students for 'Beta' Class

By Dan Rivoli | August 22, 2012 4:30pm | Updated on August 22, 2012 5:03pm

MANHATTAN — Cornell University’s planned $2 billion tech campus isn't slated to open on Roosevelt Island until 2017, but prospective students can apply now for the school’s "beta" class starting up in January 2013, housed temporarily at Google's headquarters in Chelsea.

Students have until October to apply for a spot at Cornell NYC Tech’s one-year Masters of Engineering computer science degree program, city officials announced Wednesday.

"If you are an engineer who wants to live in the best city of the world, the new capital of engineering talent, and the rising star of the technology industry, Cornell NYC Tech offers an exciting new opportunity," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

"Getting in won’t be easy," he added, "but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."

Though Google was founded by Stanford University grads — who had supported their alma mater's competing bid for the city's tech campus competition — the company donated space in its building while Cornell finishes construction on its two-million-square-foot campus on the southern end of Roosevelt Island.

It will replace Goldwater Hospital, a city-run nursing home and long-term rehabilitation center for roughly 800 patients, which is set to close by December 2013.

Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the tech campus, said school officials have used the “beta” moniker — which in computer lingo means "testing phase" — because the first class will help shape the direction of the educational institution.

"Candidates for the beta class must be future tech leaders, with not only the highest academic credentials but also strong entrepreneurial interests, leadership skills and a passion for community engagement," Huttenlocher said in a statement.

The program is focused on combining educational excellence and academic research with real-world commercial applications and technology entrepreneurship. The hope is to encourage the creation of new companies in New York City, officials explained. Students will be paired with industry mentors — to immerse them in the local business community — as well as academic advisers.  

Courses will be conducted Mondays through Thursdays, with Fridays reserved for interdisciplinary workshops in such topics as leadership skills or design and technology.

Following the "beta" program launch, Cornell NYC Tech will offer one-year masters programs in electrical and computer engineering, information science and operations research and information engineering. There are also plans for a tech-focused MBA and for an innovative new two-year Master of Science dual degree offered by Cornell and its academic partner, the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology) that will focus on media, healthier living or the built environment.

Cornell recently tapped Andrew C. Winters, a veteran city official, as its capital projects director to plan the new campus. 

The school lured Deborah Estrin from the University of California Los Angeles to become its first tech campus faculty member. The computer science professor is the Founding Director of the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing and a pioneer in networked sensing, which uses mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world.