It marked the first time an accredited international university has ever granted a degree in the United States.

On May 21, at Cornell Tech’s annual Recognition Ceremony held at The Times Center, degree candidates from the four campus masters program were honored, including the first class of Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute graduates.

These twelve students received the MS in Information Systems with a concentration in Connective Media dual-degree, with diplomas from both Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The graduates were previously feted on May 18 by the American Technion Society in a pre-graduation event held at WeWork Bryant Park.

Coming from seven different countries, the Jacobs Institute’s inaugural class embodies the globally diverse face of today’s tech industry. Their future employers include Facebook, Google, WeWork, Verizon and Bloomberg. Some will launch startup companies aimed at improving the quality of life of people living with disabilities or transforming interactive education, and a few will continue research partnerships with the Clinton Foundation and other major institutions.

While students at the Jacobs Institute, they collectively created an impressive body of work. Among the projects were Palpiction, a solution to make images on social media accessible to those with visual impairments; OneBook, a mixed-reality book that reconnects readers to the physical books they love; and an un-named health logistics technology helping in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

As a result, the Connective Media graduates took home a disproportionate number of awards at the Cornell Tech Recognition Ceremony, including the Social Impact Award, “Best Demo” and “Best Pivot.”

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.”

As the graduates reflected on their time at the Jacobs Institute, they expressed anticipation for their work to come and appreciation for the learning foundations they had gained at the Jacobs Institute.

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

Photo credit: 2016 American Technion Society