Columbia’s Proposed Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering in Manhattanville

October 26, 2011

Columbia University’s response (PDF) to New York City’s RFP for the Applied Science NYC initiative envisions the creation of an Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering as part of the University’s Manhattanville campus now rising on 17 acres of the old manufacturing zone in West Harlem. Mayor Bloomberg has said that building an engineering and applied sciences campus will help diversify the city’s economy and spur job creation in technology-based businesses.

Columbia’s proposal (PDF) reflects its unique position for bringing the mayor’s goal to fruition by providing “a university in full”—a broad-based academic environment which also can work in collaboration with entrepreneurs, investors, alumni and outside partners. “Experience shows that engineering and applied science thrives as part of a multidisciplinary university community that includes everything from cutting-edge research in the basic sciences and humanities to the entrepreneurship of a business school,” says President Lee C. Bollinger. “That kind of dynamic intellectual mix that defines not just Columbia, but the genius of New York itself.”

Unlike universities from outside New York seeking to build stand-alone research centers on city-owned land on Roosevelt Island, Columbia’s plan will leverage the major commitment it has already made to long-term academic and economic growth in Upper Manhattan. The proposed Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering will focus on five key areas that are essential to an increasingly data-rich society: new media, smart cities, health analytics, cybersecurity and financial analytics.

Indeed, Columbia’s unique interdisciplinary proposal expressly relies not just on engineering, but also on contributions from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Mailman School of Public Health, theCollege of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia Business SchoolColumbia Journalism School, theSchool of International and Public Affairs, and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. The Institute will also be located in close proximity to the university’s Jerome L. Greene Science Center now under construction as the home of Columbia’sMind Brain Behavior neuroscience initiative.