The Cornell Column

Jane Swanson
Cornell Community Liaison
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As I’m sure many of you have seen, all major parts of phase one of Cornell Tech’s campus are far along and on track to open summer 2017! Andrew Winters, Senior Director of Capital Projects at Cornell Tech, recently gave the Construction and Community Task Force an update on our progress.

These coming months will see significant progress for the campus. The North Loop Road has reopened for the community to use. The Bloomberg Center topped off in November, and the Bridge and Passive House residential building are expected to top off this month.

In an extension of our aggressive barging effort, we are currently barging in drywall, and we expect to start barge delivery of wall panels in several weeks.

At the Task Force meeting, we had a wonderful presentation from the organization Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW). NEW prepares, trains, and places women in construction careers – including carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and more – and serves as a direct pipeline for construction trades unions, providing women with skills and access to high paying jobs. NEW trains more than 400 women every year – 80% of them are low-income, and many are single moms.

Cornell Tech is extremely proud to sign on as a NEW signature project. We have committed to ensuring that at least 15% of the construction jobs on campus to go tradeswomen. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about the organization and how to get involved to visit their website And in conjunction with the Cornell Tech Community and Construction Task Force, Cornell Tech will soon be hosting an outreach/recruitment event on Roosevelt Island. Stay tuned!

As you know, Cornell Tech is always looking for new ways to engage with the island community, and on February 4th, our faculty and students had an exciting opportunity to talk with The Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center about the potential for future collaboration.

The workshop included presentations by Cornell Tech and Cornell University professors and students whose research relates to helping those living with disabilities.

Dr. Shiri Azenkot, who directs the Enhancing Ability Lab at Cornell Tech, shared updates on her current research. One of her students is developing Palette, a device that allows people with quadriplegia to better control their environments. Another student is developing smart glasses to improve sight for people with low vision.

Dr. Susanne M. Bruyère, the Director of Cornell University’s Institute on Employment and Disability, discussed her experience researching and working to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

Leadership and staff at Coler Hospital also presented on the valuable resources and technology already at the hospital, and provided key insights into the hospital’s current needs. Floyd Long, Acting CEO of Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, provided a key overview of Coler’s current operations and expressed excitement about this potential collaboration. Members of his staff shared videos and models of the technology available to improve their patients’ daily lives and foster rehabilitation.

The meeting with Coler is a first meeting step towards collaborating on the important issue of disabilities.

We are having our next Construction and Community Task Force meeting on Monday, April 25th at Gallery RIVAA at 527 Main St at 6 p.m., where we will provide additional updates. The next town hall meeting is currently scheduled for June 13th, with more details to come.

I look forward to seeing you all on the Island! Please visit for more information and to get in touch with us.

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