Cornell Tech to Foster Technion Institute’s Ethos!

Dear Commons Community,

Cornell Tech is moving forward with its academic programs. The new institution now operates out of the Google building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and will eventually be housed in a complex on Roosevelt Island, in the East River, construction for which started in June. The institution offers graduate-level studies focused on the media, health technology, and the built environment. However, what is most intriguing about Cornell Tech is its partner, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“A certain mystique surrounds the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The university has helped make Israel the “Start-Up Nation” celebrated in books and venture-capital circles, has spun off dozens of companies, and has taught entrepreneurship since long before it became popular.

Its worldwide prestige is why Cornell University chose the Technion four years ago as its partner to build a new technology-focused campus in New York City.

Yet for all its vaunted reputation, there’s actually little in the Technion policies or formal practices that’s all that different from the approach at dozens of other successful institutions around the world. On paper, at least, it doesn’t stand out.

Instead, it’s a certain hard-to-pinpoint ethos in the institute, located on a hilly campus in this city on the Mediterranean Sea, that sets the Technion apart.

Ziv Lautman, a recent graduate and co-founder of a two-year-old company called BreezoMeter, calls it “an atmosphere of excellence.”

It’s a place where many faculty members work comfortably and eagerly with industry on research partnerships, and students aspire to make similar connections or even to forge their own paths. “We’re attractive to students who think they know what company they’re going to start,” says Ehud Behar, a professor of physics.

It’s that ethos that Cornell officials are working to channel for the new Cornell Tech applied-sciences campus 5,600 miles away.

Cornell Tech aims to be a different kind of higher-education institution, infused with some of the Technion’s DNA, even as officials here in Israel and in New York acknowledge that a lot of the Technion’s culture — what Mr. Lautman calls its “spirit” — is intimately tied to its role in Israel’s early Zionist past and in its current high-tech boom. The challenge, says Daniel Huttenlocher, founding dean and vice provost at Cornell Tech, is “how can we abstract it and bring it to New York City.”

We wish Cornell Tech well!  We also thank former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for taking the initiative in bringing this partnership to New York City.


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