Engineering deans discuss Cuomo’s L train construction plan

From left: Ben Fried (moderator, chief information officer at Google), Jelena Kovačević (NYU), Gilda Barabino (City College of New York), Mary Cunningham Boyce (Columbia).
From left: Ben Fried (moderator, chief information officer at Google), Jelena Kovačević (NYU), Gilda Barabino (City College of New York), Mary Cunningham Boyce (Columbia).
Annie McDonough
From left: Ben Fried (moderator, chief information officer at Google), Jelena Kovačević (NYU), Gilda Barabino (City College of New York), Mary Cunningham Boyce (Columbia).

Engineering deans discuss Cuomo’s L train construction plan

ABNY and Google brought women deans together to discuss which engineering programs are and are not working in the city
March 12, 2019

On Monday, the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) and Google brought together Gilda Barabino from the City College of New York, Jelena Kovačević from New York University, and Mary Cunningham Boyce of Columbia University – deans of their respective engineering schools – to talk about their experiences as trailblazers in the field.

The panelists provided insight on how engineering programs are both succeeding in increasing diversity (Columbia’s entering undergraduate class is 49 percent women) and failing (those numbers plummet outside of New York and in postgraduate classes). But the discussion quickly turned to another hot topic – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial L train construction plan – Boyce was one of the governor’s engineering advisers.

While the governor’s plan has been panned for the way it was sprung upon the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it is an example of government looking outside its own offices to solve city issues – something that should arguably be happening more often.

Boyce said that the city’s work with engineering academics on the new L train plan has opened her eyes to new possibilities for collaborating on infrastructure projects. “Just having the universities involved, we're looking at things differently,” Boyce said. “We have a different way of thinking and looking at an issue.” Boyce raised possibilities like creating an infrastructure center with Cornell and expanding Columbia’s research efforts with an eye toward addressing long-term city problems. New York in particular, she said, has an ability to embrace these partnerships. “When we think of all the buildings, all the transportation systems – these are just sitting there waiting for something big to happen.”

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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