BY JOE MARVILLI
Although New York City’s tech industry has been booming lately, a few lawmakers are proposing legislation make sure it stays that way.
On June 17 outside the Rosenthal Library on Queens College’s campus, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Hillcrest), State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Westchester) and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer held a press conference with educators, business leaders and civic leaders to announce a bill that would provide partial student loan repayment for engineers who stay in the State.
The legislation, known as the Empire Engineers Initiative Act would provide partial student loan repayment for students who graduate from an accredited college or university in New York and are employed as engineers in the State for five years. The amount of loan forgiveness would be equal to 50 percent of the total tuition charged to the student by all schools or 50 percent of the total tuition charged to a state resident student in an engineering program at a SUNY school, whichever is less.
“With approximately 20 engineering schools across the State, we remain 38th in the percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded in science and engineering and 28th overall in the technology and science workforce index,” Rozic said. “New York must do all that it can to inspire students to study engineering and ensure that they put their education to work from Buffalo to Yonkers to right here in the heart of Queens.”
“We developed an amazing product with our SUNY institutions and our CUNY institutions. Then that developed student leaves our state. I call it a brain-drain,” Carlucci added. “We need to do what we can to make sure the high caliber of students that are educated here in New York, stay in New York, so that the cities of tomorrow, the companies of tomorrow, can thrive.”
If passed, the act would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Many officials, leaders and students at the conference praised the legislation.
“Only one out of four tech jobs are filled in New York right now because there’s not enough of an educated, skilled work force out there to help with these economies. I think that’s why this bill is so important,” Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens, said.
“Our students leave with $25,000 to $30,000 in student loans,” Joy Colelli, from NYU-Polytechnic Institute, said. “Many companies that recruit our students are offering some relief to some students in their student loans. This bill would certainly add to the students’ opportunity and reasoning for staying in New York.”
“What I love about this is it lets students from elementary school, middle school and high school see that there’s opportunities in college, there’s opportunities in New York,” Patricia Daly, regional director of NYC FIRST Lego League and High School Robotics, said.
“This will offset the expenses that some of these students may occur over this time, not only in the public schools, but also in the privates,” Tim Ward, dean of the school of engineering at Manhattan College, added. “For many, many years, the engineering profession has failed at trying to attract more women and more people of color. I hope this bill will help address some of those issues as well.”
“In the beginning, I was applying mostly out-of-state and it was hard for me to find the right networking opportunities,” Hasan Priyo, a graduate in mechanical engineering, said. “It is really great, the fact that all these tech sectors are opening up.”
“We’re building out this infrastructure for technology and we’re doing it very well. Yet, at the core, we are not training our young people for the industry. This has to change,” Stringer said, adding that the bill is “a win for the students, it’s a win for the profession and it’s a win for the New York economy.”
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.