The $133 million gift announced this week by Qualcomm Founder Irwin Jacobs to Cornell Tech in New York City was certainly good news to the educational institution, but was likely not much of a surprise. That’s because IEEE 2013 Medal of Honor recipient Jacobs, profiled in the May issue of Spectrum, has long supported engineering education. And he’s been particularly generous to the two universities that are building this joint campus on New York’s Roosevelt Island: his alma mater, Cornell, based in Ithaca, N.Y., and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, based in Haifa, Israel. Jacobs has supported a number of fellowships and professorships in Cornell’s Colleges of Engineering and Human Ecology, and, at the Technion, contributed to what is now the Jacobs Graduate School as well as the Jacobs Center for Communications and Information Technologies. So when Cornell and the Technion teamed up to win the right to create a Roosevelt Island campus, well, I'm sure it didn't make the generous Jacobs and his wife Joan, who is also a Cornell alumnus, unhappy. (The only unhappy party was surely Stanford, which withdrew a bid to build a New York City campus.) It was likely that the winners would eventually benefit from the Jacobs's philanthropy. the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII). The Institute will offer a two-year graduate program in which students will earn dual master degrees, one from Cornell and one from Technion, specializing in “Connective Media,” focusing on mobile technology and social media; “Healthier Living,” developing health care technology; or “The Built Environment,” working to improve life in urban environments. It will also offer an incubator program for postdocs trying to commercialize technology.
The contribution brings the private funds raised for the Roosevelt Island campus to $500 million. The school's "beta" entering class of eight students is currently housed in temporary space within Google’s Manhattan headquarters.
Photos: Top, Irwin and Joan Jacobs; bottom, rendering of the planned Cornell Tech Campus, credit: Kilograph
Correction made 8 April 2014.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.