Google Makes Room for Cornell Engineering Campus at its NY Offices

5/21/12Follow @jpruth

The $2 billion applied science and engineering college campus planned for New York is still years away from opening its doors, but Google stepped in today to give the project a head start.

Google CEO Larry Page hit the city this morning to announce his company would let CornellNYC Tech occupy 22,000 square feet at Google’s Manhattan headquarters. CornellNYC Tech, a collaboration between Cornell University and Technion Israel Institute of Technology, can use the space for free for some five years while the permanent campus is built on New York’s Roosevelt Island.

At a press conference, Page said it was important for the giant search and software company to nuture tomorrow’s innovators through education. “We want more of the best minds doing the imagining for us,” he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also spoke at today’s press conference, talking up Google’s effect on the city since the company opened its offices here in 2006. “That really helped jumpstart New York’s now-booming tech center,” he said.

Google’s support of the CornellNYC Tech effort could help maintain that momentum. Cornell will have access to the office space on July 1 and can use the space free of charge for at least five and a half years or until the engineering campus opens, expected in 2017.

David Skorton, president of Cornell, said graduate students and faculty members from the university’s Ithaca campus will start using the space in the fall. Starting in 2013, new students will have the chance to take classes within Google’s New York building on Eighth Avenue. Cornell will have the leeway to expand to 58,000 square feet of space in the building during the expected five-year stay.

Bloomberg said the Roosevelt Island applied science campus and a second campus, to be built in Brooklyn by a team led by New York University, have the potential to drive more economic change in New York. “Tech employment has grown 30 percent in the city. We are second only to Silicon Valley,” he said, “and we don’t like to be second to anybody.”

Although Google, Facebook, and eBay have established footholds in New York and the startup ecosystem continues to evolve, Skorton said more collaboration is needed with the academic community. “The missing ingredient is a pipeline of top tech talent,” he said.

In addition to classes, the space at Google will host hackathons and other events to connect with the local innovation community. Google will also have a chance to recruit from the students taking classes there. Skorton said every graduate student will have access to industry mentors as well as academic advisors. “We’re jumping in with both feet,” he said.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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