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U of T students benefit from historic New York City partnership

Centre next milestone in Mayor Bloomberg's applied sciences initiative

University of Toronto Provost Cheryl Misak joins New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in announcing The Centre for Urban Science and Progress (Photo by Jonathan Fickies AP/Images CP/Images)

The University of Toronto is a core member of an international consortium creating the next milestone in New York City’s groundbreaking Applied Sciences NYC initiative.  The initiative seeks to increase the City’s capacity for applied sciences and dramatically transform its economy.

The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) was announced today by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  CUSP will focus on research and developing technologies for the critical challenges facing the world’s cities, including infrastructure, tech integration, energy efficiency, transportation congestion, public safety, and public health. 

CUSP is the result of an agreement among the City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a consortium of world-class academic institutions and private technology companies. New York University (NYU) and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University lead the consortium.   

In addition to the University of Toronto, other institutions participating in the consortium will include Carnegie Mellon University, University of Warwick, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, as well as leading companies IBM, CISCO and Siemens.

Upon full build of CUSP’s downtown Brooklyn location, it is projected that 430 Masters candidates and 100 Ph.D. candidates will study in this ‘living laboratory,’ solving pressing problems for the cities of the world.

This partnership will ensure that the best thinking on urban engineering is brought home to Toronto and other Canadian cities. As well as having PhD students at CUSP, the University of Toronto will develop a new and cutting-edge professional Master’s program focused on cities engineering and management. This program will seek to attract students from a variety of disciplines who are interested in the sustainable growth and development of large urban centres.

U of T is the only Canadian university to be represented in the collaboration.

“The University of Toronto is proud and excited to partner with these outstanding international institutions in New York and we are grateful to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his team for their support,” said Professor David Naylor, president, University of Toronto. “I also must thank President John Sexton of New York University and his team for their vision and leadership, and here in Toronto, Provost Cheryl Misak, Dean Cristina Amon of Engineering, and many other colleagues for their outstanding work in cementing a Canadian role in this unique partnership.”

“The University of Toronto has a long and deep history of research into building successful cities that are innovative, efficient and sustainable. This partnership is a fabulous opportunity for students and faculty at the University of Toronto to do research on important issues facing big cities,” said Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost of the University of Toronto. “Our University and the entire Toronto region will see tremendous benefits from this work and from collaborations with colleagues from around the world.”

“U of T Engineering’s global impact is further extended by our involvement with CUSP,” said Dean Cristina Amon, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “We are uniquely positioned to contribute to this international effort through leading research centres, such as the University of Toronto Cities Centre, the Centre for Resilience of Critical Infrastructure, and Centre for Sustainable Energy, among others.”

The CUSP partnership will offer tremendous benefits to U of T students and faculty:

• the proposed Master’s program on cities engineering and management will have students conducting coursework as well as urban-focused research for one year at the University of Toronto and then at CUSP in Brooklyn;
• PhD students will be able to conduct research at CUSP;
• Internships for UofT students will be available at some of the top companies in the world;
• select faculty from the University of Toronto will be visiting professors at CUSP and will teach, conduct research and interact with government and industry in New York City;
• CUSP will solve urban challenges affecting all cities; and, 
• U of T students and faculty will bring back vital expertise that can be applied to challenges facing the City of Toronto or other cities in Canada.

According to today’s announcement in New York, CUSP was selected in this major competition due to its unique and bold vision to provide solutions for the world’s growing cities in the 21st century.  In addition, the announcement made clear that the academic partners, such as the University of Toronto, are known for their strong applied science and engineering programs and track records of research commercialization, as well as industry collaborations and partnerships. 

Last December, as part of the Applied Sciences NYC initiative, Mayor Bloomberg, the President of Cornell University and the President of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology announced the first successful partnership - to build a two-million-square-foot applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Today’s announcement about CUSP is the second such announcement. It is not known if there will be any further successful bids.

NYU will immediately begin building new facilities for CUSP using existing space in downtown Brooklyn.  Some classes are slated to begin in September, 2013.  The development plan also calls for an expansion into a renovated building by 2016 that would provide space for business incubation as well as CUSP research and labs.