Silicon Alley U

Columbia Gets in on the Action, as the City Coughs Up $15M. for a Third Tech Campus

We never thought we'd see the day NYC was a destination for aspiring engineers, rather than ambitious theater students.
f85732fada5111e1b5561231380f91a6 7 Columbia Gets in on the Action, as the City Coughs Up $15M. for a Third Tech Campus

Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Bollinger. (Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office Instagram

This morning, the right honorable Mayor Bloomberg ventured north to the Columbia campus for what was teased on Twitter as a “big announcement.” It turns out that Columbia will not be left out while Cornell-Technion and NYU Polytechnic rake in all the glory, because the Lions are getting their very own tech project, the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering.

Sound familiar? That’s probably because the project is what the university originally pitched, way back in October, for its very own applied sciences campus. For those keeping score at home, that brings the city’s total up to three tech campuses. Are you excited for science yet?

According to a press release, the city will provide $15 million in “financial assistance,” including “discounted energy transmission costs and partial debt forgiveness.” So not $15 million in cash, but that’s nothing to sneeze at, nevertheless. As for what it’ll create, the agreement between town and gown promises 44,000 square feet of new space for engineering and applied sciences on Columbia’s campus by 2016, as well as 75 additional faculty over the next 15 years.

Says the statement:

 The focus of the new institute will be on advances in the data sciences, attracting high-caliber faculty in specific fields of study, and expanding Columbia’s research capabilities and funding, and building upon the school’s recent successes in engineering.

Mayor Bloomberg took the opportunity to submit a first draft of his mention in the history books:

“This historic partnership is newest element in the applied sciences initiative that is, by far, the largest and most far-reaching economic development effort City government has undertaken in modern memory,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “It will create tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, and it will encourage the growth of the tech sector in New York City and solidify our leadership in the innovation economy for decades to come.”

Not to be outdone (venture too far off message), President Bollinger added:

“We know from experience that the creativity and dynamism of this new Data Sciences Institute will be ignited by collaborations that are possible because they are part of the wide diversity of intellectual excellence that defines not just a great urban research university like Columbia, but the genius of New York City itself.”

Frankly, we’re starting to suspect that Hizzoner re-reads that Ken Auletta piece on Stanford every night before he goes to bed.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com