Silicon Alley U

Cornell Keeps Gunning for That Tech Campus. But NYU, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Unveil Surprise Plans

custom 1269548222971 2008 11 04 office 01 Cornell Keeps Gunning for That Tech Campus. But NYU, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Unveil Surprise Plans

Pobrecito, Andy.

With less than three weeks left until proposals are due to build a Stanford-like engineering mecca on the isle of Manhattan, no one is taking any chances. Rumor may have it that Stanford proper is a lock for the contract. But as Betabeat has reported, a source familiar with the decision-making process says it’s pretty much about the RFP. (Even Mayor Bloomberg’s imprimatur is merely  a “small to medium plus,” said the source.)

Cornell’s PR firm and power lobbyist, hired to help manage the school’s campaign, seem convinced that a little community spirit can’t hurt. This Saturday, October 15th, Cornell will be the only academic sponsor for Next Jump’s Silicon Alley 500 recruiting event on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, matching engineers and engineering students with hot Made in NYC startups like 10gen, Etsy, Boxee, Meetup, SecondMarket, and Tumblr.

Cornell may need the good will. Over the weekend, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia all showed a little RFP leg–with proposals that opt for Brooklyn and Manhattanville over Roosevelt Island. And this morning Stanford just announced that it’s partnering with CUNY and City College.

The creation of the Stanford-CUNY Collaboration at City College, or Stanford@CCNY for short, seems like an aggressive response to critics, among them Union Square Ventures’s Fred Wilson, who told Betabeat, “It’s downright anti-NYC for the mayor’s office to consider helping an outsider come into NYC and a massive slap in the face of all the great institutions NYC has here already.” Well, it looks like Stanford’s bid just got some local flavor.

Mr. Wilson, who is on the board of NYU and its engineering school NYU-Poly will likely be backing the joint bid from NYU, which partners with schools like Carnegie Mellon, CUNY, the Indian Institute of Technology and companies like IBM, ConEd, and Cisco. The latest issue of Crain’s New York Business reveals previously undisclosed details, like the fact that neither NYU’s nor Columbia’s proposal will use Roosevelt Island, the parcel of city-owned land thought to be the preferred choice for the new campus.

According to Crain’s, “NYU will put forward a 450,000-square-foot campus at 370 Jay St. [in Brooklyn], an underutilized city-owned building—across the street from Polytechnic Institute of NYU—that is leased to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.” Columbia will stick with Manhattan, but further uptown:

“Columbia, which is flying solo, wants to build a 1 million-square-foot data science institute on its emerging Manhattanville campus, north of West 130th Street, between 12th Avenue and Broadway. Two new buildings would be constructed, and an old auto factory would be refurbished. The center would focus on new media, smart cities, cybersecurity, finance and health analytics, and would involve the university’s business, journalism, engineering, international and business schools.”

While Carnegie Mellon brings the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of the original four locations proposed by the NYC EDC, back into play:

“Carnegie Mellon’s bid, aimed at making the city a production powerhouse, is altogether different. Patterned loosely on partnerships the university has with Disney and Google in its home city of Pittsburgh, the plan calls for collaborating with Steiner Studios to build an entertainment technology center adjacent to Steiner’s home at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”

Crains’ says that kind of smaller-scale plan, at least compared to the campus on Roosevelt Island, opens up the possibility of the EDC picking two or more winners, something that agency hasn’t ruled out. But breaking ground on that many projects before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office may stretch the resources and efforts too thin.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com