A SPIKE in Success

Students at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) are committed to tackling real-world problems, and Poly’s hands-on learning environment is targeted at helping them do just that.

Undeniably, it doesn’t get more hands-on than working in an actual start-up company, directly impacting the outcome of the business while gaining exciting and practical new skills. The Skill-based Program for Incubator Knowledge and Employment (SPIKE) is facilitating that experience for several talented Poly students. 

Ontodia, which operates out of the Varick Street Incubator, is just one of the companies making good use of Poly’s pool of bright, motivated young people thanks to the initiative.

“We love SPIKE,” Joel Natividad, Ontodia’s CEO and co-founder says. “Getting good engineers is hard, because they are in such demand! But we now have first dibs on the best.” He continued, “Poly students are known for their intelligence and creativity, and we are able to leverage all their talents.”

SPIKE was launched by NYU-Poly's Incubators and the Wasserman Center for Career Development with the aim of supporting the companies developing in the incubators while providing a chance for students to learn the skills they’ll need in the work world. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

“We’ve gone from being two people working in a basement to a thriving company of eight people here at Varick Street with the help of SPIKE,” Sami Baig, the president and co-founder of Ontodia, explains. “Poly interns are exemplary. They really produce and we couldn’t do without them.”

Ontodia, which aims to create "human-powered, machine-accelerated, Collective Knowledge Systems," had its first full-time hire with Poly grad Aizizi Yigaimu, who has since been joined by five interns. Xu Chen, one of them, enthuses, “It’s good to learn in class, but it’s great to learn in a real-world situation. At Ontodia, I’ve found out what it really means to apply my knowledge.” Another, Aykut Simsek, points out that Natividad and Baig understand the challenges of balancing work life and studies. “They are willing to adjust our work schedules during finals, and that’s not something you would find with all bosses,” he says.

All the interns are grateful to be on the ground floor of a new venture, starting from scratch, and learning by doing. Ontodia’s founders have many reasons to be equally grateful. “We are lucky to be here at Varick Street, with all the advantages that offers,” Natividad says, “and SPIKE is naturally a big part of that.”

For more information or to apply visit engineering.nyu.edu/SPIKE