Juerg Brunnschweiler reveals how ETH Zurich, one of the world’s most international universities, keeps its skin in the game launching the ETH Ambassadors’ blog – a living history.
Apart from Zurich, which will always be my home and most liveable city, New York is my most favourite city in the world. Energetic, creative and chaotic, New York has a certain kind of vibe – everything seems to happen there. It is much like that old Frank Sinatra song: “New York, New York,” you know the words, “Start spreadin’ the news…I want to be a part of it New York, New York…” Many people, at least in the western world, view New York City as the “capital” of culture, finance, media, and technological trends. Major things happen in this dynamic city – where ideas and culture come together. From the United Nations to major sporting events, I find the pulse of New York makes it the most exciting city.
Why does this matter to ETH Zurich?
In May this year, my team at ETH Global and I hosted ETH Meets New York – part of the university’s international ETH Meets You event series where we connect and exchange ideas with our counterparts at other universities, with industry, and with entrepreneurs. Since 2014, we have hosted several events in New York. On this occasion, we focused our visit on Blockchain, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence technologies. Some say that New York is becoming the “Silicon Alley,” a centre of technology that encompasses fintech, digital media, software, and game development. When Michael Bloomberg was Mayor of New York, he really revived the city bringing in capital investment from new players – universities like Cornell and Technion and high tech industries such as Google and IBM that now have a major presence in New York. As the number one university in the world for Computer Science, I think that ETH Zurich has the potential to both make a significant contribution and to benefit from this dynamic ecosystem.
Here’s the deal…
At ETH we start small, but think big. In 2014, we contributed more than twelve events to Zurich Meets New York: A Festival of Swiss Ingenuity and in 2015 ETH architects built a “Future Garden and Pavilion” in a New York City park as part of the IDEAS City Festival. It soon became clear that we needed an outpost in the Big Apple, so we recently launched an ETH Studio in New York – a virtual studio to develop ideas and opportunities. Companies like Zkipster, Google and others have benefited by tapping into the talent pool at ETH Zurich during the pilot phase of the ETH Studio New York. It is a win-win situation – companies pose a challenge for ETH to solve and students or researchers receive a life-changing experience in the context of the “real-world” challenges presented by living and working in New York.
What’s the real story?
The best part about my job; however, is to meet the unsung heroes that I call, the “ETH Ambassadors.” From New York’s Silicon Alley to Singapore’s Future Cities Lab, I meet ETH Alumni, researchers, and friends of the university who create quiet legacies not only for themselves and their families, but also for the university and most of all for Switzerland. It is super cool and so stimulating to connect with people who have their own story about ETH Zurich or who are familiar with the monuments and bridges of ETH engineers like Othmar Ammann. Amman designed the George Washington Bridge that spans the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey.
With more than 65,000 ETH Alumni, living and working around the globe there are many ETH stories out there. I want these people to have a voice and to invite them to contribute their stories as part of the “living history” of ETH Zurich. The ETH Ambassadors’ blog provides a platform that allows the world to peek behind the scenes of one of the top universities in the world and to hear through words, images, videos, sounds, music, and colours how ETH Zurich influences the world. If you are an ETH Ambassador – even in the broadest sense, I personally invite you to contribute. My team and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Juerg Brunnschweiler
Juerg Brunnschweier is the Director of ETH Global.