Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute Launches the Urban Tech Hub

October 11, 2019
Kevin Hattori

The Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech has launched Urban Tech, an academic concentration aimed at making cities more livable, adaptable, and connected. The new degree concentration provides students the opportunity to pursue emerging sectors in urban innovation including transportation, real estate/proptech and construction, logistics and delivery, energy and other utilities, intelligent buildings and infrastructure, civic and urban community technology, and other areas of urban technology transformation.

Ron Brachman

Ron Brachman

“The Urban Tech hub is a tremendous addition to the Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute, joining our other hubs with immersive degree concentrations in media and health,” said Ron Brachman, Director of the Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute. “With complex systems operating within larger systems, cities naturally demand interdisciplinary study. This perfectly aligns with Jacobs’ strength of gathering the brightest minds in a diverse array of disciplines and industries. Jacobs students and postdocs have already created many successful products and companies, and I know Urban Tech will yield similar results. We’re particularly excited to have an emerging hub that will expand our scope to new fields through key academic units at Cornell and the Technion.”

Urban Tech is the third, two-year master’s program offered at the Jacobs Institute. The Connective Media program was the first to launch, graduating Jacob’s first-ever cohort of students in May 2016. The Health Tech program followed, graduating its first cohort in May 2017. Students of the Urban Tech program will receive a dual master’s degree, as do the students of the Connective Media and Health Tech tracks. Applications for the Urban Tech program are now open for the inaugural class entering in Fall 2020.

Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech

Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech

The new concentration will allow students to use machine learning, data science, human-computer interaction, and product design to address the multifaceted challenges of a city while gaining insight from New York City leaders, planners, and entrepreneurs. The Urban Tech hub was established in part thanks to longtime Technion supporter and Guardian Mitch Julis and his Julis Rabinowitz Family Fund, which provided support for the necessary research and scoping to ensure the hub was meeting industry needs.

“Urban Tech exemplifies the core mission of our campus, equipping students to create solutions to complex, pressing, and real-world challenges through interdisciplinary research and experimentation,” said Greg Morrisett, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech. As our students and faculty experience every day in the heart of New York City, urban life is a melting pot of crucial 21st century issues such as sustainability, transportation, and safety. With access to a world-class faculty and expert industry insight, I’m confident that our Urban Tech program will develop leaders, technologies, and products that will have a positive impact on urban life.”

Work in the urban tech realm was underway at the Jacobs Institute’s Runway Startup Postdoc Program and courses on the larger Cornell Tech campus, prior to the new hub. The Runway Program, which works with recent PhD graduates to turn deep research into startups, has already spun out four urban tech companies, including Maalka, a data management platform to ensure buildings are meeting their ambitious sustainability goals, and OnSiteIQ, which provides 360-degree visual monitoring of construction sites developed by experts in machine learning and computer vision.

And this Fall, 17 teams of graduate students from Cornell Tech’s seven masters programs are working on Urban Tech projects in the Product Studio course, tackling real-life challenges posed by businesses and organizations. Students are developing new technologies in response to questions such as: “how might cities reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as we move towards a renewable future?”; “how might we improve access to transportation for people with special needs?”; and “how might we enhance safety for domestic violence survivors in their homes and communities?” They are working in partnership with ARUP, an independent firm of engineers, architects, and technical specialists in the built environment; New York State’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority; the New York City Mayor’s Office, the City of Mount Holyoke, and other entities,

The Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute is a uniquely experimental, transdisciplinary graduate institute housed on the new Cornell Tech campus in New York City. A partnership between the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology and Cornell University, the Jacobs Institute represents a next-generation model for STEM education, designed around industry-focused “hubs” that address specific areas of social and economic need. As the embodiment of the Technion and Cornell’s winning submission in the City of New York’s competition to create a new applied sciences grad school, the Jacobs Institute is growing the City’s tech sector and fostering technologies and companies that will have global impact.

For more than a century, the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology has pioneered in science and technology education and delivered world-changing impact. Proudly a global university, the Technion has long leveraged boundary-crossing collaborations to advance breakthrough research and technologies. Now with a presence in three countries, the Technion will prepare the next generation of global innovators. Technion people, ideas, and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world, innovating in fields from cancer research and sustainable energy to quantum computing and computer science to do good around the world.

The American Technion Society supports visionary education and world-changing impact through the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. Based in New York City, we represent thousands of US donors, alumni, and stakeholders who invest in the Technion’s growth and innovation to advance critical research and technologies that serve the State of Israel and the global good. Over more than 75 years, our nationwide supporter network has funded new Technion scholarships, research, labs, and facilities that have helped deliver world-changing contributions and extend Technion education to campuses in three countries.