Ithaca, N.Y. — Several student engineering teams and startups were featured on Tuesday by Rep. Tom Reed’s (R-23) tour of Cornell’s Experiential Learning Lab at Upson Hall.

Rep. Reed speaks with a member of Cornell’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team. (Kyle Friend/Ithaca Voice)
Rep. Reed speaks with a member of Cornell’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team. (Kyle Friend/Ithaca Voice)

The Congressman’s visit to Cornell comes a few months before voting day in his race against Democrat Martha Robertson in the 23rd District’s election.

The presentation — organized by Rebecca Macdonald, Swanson Director of Engineering Project Teams at Cornell — highlighted student-run engineering teams that specialize in areas ranging from aeronautics to race cars.

Two Cornell startups — an app that lets you shop local grocers online, “Rosie” and the content-recommendation software “Speare” — also drew attention.

Reed jokes with members of the startups. (Kyle Friend/Ithaca Voice)

Rep. Reed spoke with representatives from the startups, giving them advice and congratulating them on their success. Reed called the startups “cutting-edge.”

Reed said many people don’t know the extent of resources available to entrepreneurs and that he’s working to raise awareness about them.

Reed added that he was pleased to hear that the two featured startups had not had any problems with the government yet, and advised the students to “give him a call” should they encounter a problem.

He also recommended that the startups consider splitting up intellectual property with the university, saying that doing so could “provide more opportunities to the next generation” of Cornell students.

Over 1,000 students participate in 23 engineering teams, according to Macdonald’s presentation. 20% of Cornell’s engineering students play a role in a student project team.

Rep. Reed overlooks a student-built underwater robot which can supposedly reach depths of 35 feet. (Kyle Friend/Ithaca Voice)

Macdonald’s presentation also noted that women comprise about 50 percent of leadership positions with various teams.

Although Cornell gives student teams money, the majority of funds for these projects comes from third-parties.

Sarah Behringer, a member of Cornell Racing, estimated that Cornell provides only 25% of the funds that Cornell Racing has to use on their projects.

“The rest of it comes from donations from alumni and businesses,” she said. She noted that most of the donations they receive comes in the form of services or materials, not money.

A member of Cornell Racing shows Rep. Tom Reed what they have been working on. (Kyle Friend/Ithaca Voice)

Kyle Friend

A senior at Cornell University, Kyle covers the affordable housing crisis for the Ithaca Voice. Reach him through e-mail: