Leaders gathered this week to celebrate the inaugural graduating class of a joint education initiative between Israel’s Technion Institute and Cornell University.

Tech:NYC Executive Director Julie Samuels, Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni and others attended the pre-graduation event at WeWork Bryant Park, honoring the globally diverse graduates receiving the MS in Information Systems with a concentration in Connective Media, a one-of-a-kind master’s program combining disciplines of technology, media, sociology and business.

Graduates are part of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, a breakthrough program that has made Technion the first accredited international university to grant degrees in the US.

The May 29 graduation ceremony at the Cornell University Ithaca, NY campus will include the Jacobs Institute — a partnership of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Cornell University — and will mark the first time an international university has ever granted an accredited degree for studies on U.S. soil. Graduates will receive two degrees, one from the Technion and one from Cornell. The Institute’s 12 Connective Media graduates, from six different countries, are now launching innovative startups and securing jobs at industry-leading companies across the world.

“These graduating entrepreneurs are armed with the knowledge and experience in areas that are vital to the City’s economic health, and the betterment of society as a whole,” said Professor Adam Shwartz, director of the Jacobs Institute. “We look forward with anticipation to the great things they will accomplish and their impact on the economy, as well as the startups they will launch in New York City and beyond.”

The Jacobs Institute was established in 2013 with a $133 million gift from Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife, Joan Klein Jacobs. It has quickly become a catalyst for global entrepreneurship and a driver of New York’s emerging tech ecosystem and local economy. The Jacobs Institute combines professors, research and resources from the Technion, a leading global research university, that was a vital factor in Israel’s emergence as the “Startup Nation,” and Cornell, a longtime leader in engineering and computer science, with a strong presence in New York City. The Jacobs Institute’s dual-degree program — accredited through Technion in Israel and Cornell in the U.S. — provides graduates with an international advantage and greater recognition in an increasingly global workforce.

The Connective Media graduate program was created by Jacobs Institute Professor Mor Naaman, whose Social Technologies Lab studies social technologies such as YouTube, Facebook and others, and creates new technologies to help people connect. Built as a strong technical degree, the Connective Media program is unique in expanding beyond tech and combines a wide array of human, business and social disciplines. The program challenges students to engage directly with industry leaders on new projects that can impact the world in significant ways, including creating startup concepts and companies. Connective Media students have worked directly with professionals at AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn and more than a dozen other companies.

“These graduates have strong technical skills, but also skills and knowledge from the social sciences, business and design. Such set of skills is required to innovate and excel in the Connective Media landscape,” said Mor Naaman, Jacobs Institute professor and founder of the Connective Media program. “Their tech expertise, aimed towards the human and social aspects of media technologies, will be an asset to both established companies and startups, especially within communications and media spaces. These graduates are the next generation of this city’s CTOs, product chiefs, and tech leaders.”

The Jacobs Institute’s 12 inaugural graduates represent the global face of today’s tech industry and hail from the U.S., Canada, China, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, and Spain. Several graduates are already planning to begin careers at Facebook, Google, WeWork, Verizon and Bloomberg. Some will launch startup companies aimed at helping quadriplegics, transforming interactive education and changing other fields, and some will continue research partnerships with the Clinton Foundation and other major institutions.

“At the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute you have the opportunity to shape your education and to shape the courses,” said Shawn Bramson, one the inaugural Jacobs Institute graduates. “There’s an amazing entrepreneurial spirit here, reminiscent of the one I was immersed in while I was at the Technion, and an empowerment to apply what we’ve learned to make real social impact in the world.”

“Congratulations to all of the graduating Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute students,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie. “This remarkable group, and all it will accomplish, is a clear example of what can happen when innovation, excellence and a commitment to the improving the lives of people around the world come together.”

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