Building a Better Tech School
IF all the hopes and hype are warranted, a nondescript third-floor loft in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan offers a glimpse of the future, for New York City and for Cornell University. In truth, it doesn’t look like much — just cubicles and meeting rooms in space donated by Google. But looks deceive; here, with little fanfare, Cornell’s new graduate school of applied sciences is being rolled out.The sparkling, sprawling new campus on Roosevelt Island filled with gee-whiz technology — still just ink on paper. The thousands of students and staff, the transformative effect on the city’s economy, the integration with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology — those all remain in the future, too.But just 13 months after being awarded the prize in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s contest to create a new science school, Cornell NYC Tech got up and running. Eight students enrolled in January in what is being called the beta class, a one-year master’s program in computer science. And Cornell has made it clear that, in many ways, this is not the usual university program.Not long ago, three young high-tech entrepreneurs sat with the students, talking about failure. They talked about questionable technical, financial or personnel decisions in start-up businesses they had created or worked in, about companies they had seen disintegrate, and about detours into projects they later discarded.