When asked what collaborative success between the Technion and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York City might look like five years from now, Technion Professor Ariel Orda said, “I’d love for every Technion student and faculty to see the Jacobs Institute and the Cornell Tech campus as a home away from home. And the same goes for those in the other direction.”

On a mission to enhance collaboration between the Technion and the Jacobs Institute at the Cornell Tech campus, seven Technion deans visited Roosevelt Island in May 2023. The NYC campus “creates a natural bridge between the Technion to New York City and points all over the U.S.,” said Prof. Orda, who heads the Jacobs Program at the Technion.

The visiting deans were chosen according to the relevance of their discipline to the activities at the Jacobs Institute and Cornell Tech — pairing, for example, Technion deans from electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering, and architecture with Jacobs faculty in connective media, health tech, and urban tech. They participated in roundtable discussions and one-on-one meetings with Cornell Tech and Jacobs faculty, attended Cornell Tech’s Open Studio Day, and met with deans and department chairs from Cornell University’s Ithaca campus to strengthen connections there. They also met with Weill Cornell Medicine Associate Professor Fei Wang.

The visit was aimed at increasing joint teaching activities, joint student supervision, and collaborative research projects. “Having firsthand experiences will give everyone involved a better picture of the possibilities and potentials of the partnership,” said Prof. Orda, adding that the Technion is considering following Jacobs’ lead in launching an urban tech hub.

The Technion currently brings Cornell Tech students to Haifa on its 10-day cultural iTrek program, and Technion undergraduate and graduate students conduct summer internships at the Jacobs Institute. But Prof. Orda would like to see an increase in visits and sabbaticals of students and faculty in both directions — from NYC to Haifa and vice versa. “The more collaboration, the better,” he said, hoping it would result in new ideas for joint courses, programs, and degrees.

Competition for students and faculty is fierce among elite universities worldwide. “We are the only university in Israel that has such a strong tie with a leading university in the U.S.,” said Prof. Orda. “Being able to offer the special attributes of our partnership with Cornell University provides us with powerful tools to attract the best candidates in Israel and abroad.”

Professor Ron Brachman, director of the Jacobs Institute, added his perspective: “We have done exciting things over the last five years to increase the flow of people and ideas between Cornell Tech and the Technion, but this visit is unprecedented. The willingness of senior Technion colleagues to travel to our campus, coupled with the excitement of senior Cornell leaders — including the president and provost — to meet in New York City, provides an opportunity to take the collaboration to another level. The Jacobs Institute, Cornell Tech, Cornell University, and the Technion will all gain tremendously from this first-of-its-kind get-together.”

The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute is a landmark partnership between Cornell University and the Technion, with a focus on applied science and engineering. Since launching in 2012, Jacobs has been promoting entrepreneurship and boosting New York City’s tech workforce. Its inaugural 2016 graduating class marked the first time an international university granted an accredited degree for studies on U.S. soil. The Technion remains the only foreign institution to do so in the U.S.

“The opportunities are endless,” said Prof. Orda.