Monday, September 29, 2014

Fifteen Years and a Lot of Changes at the Institute of Technology

If you count from the first class enrolled in the Computer Science and Systems program at the University of Washington Tacoma then we would be entering our fifteenth year. If you want to count only the years after the legislation acted to create a polytechnic (located on the UWT campus with a state wide mission) it is only thirteen years old.

But those thirteen years have been quite a roller coaster. It is hard enough to get the kind of funding that helped to launch the Institute at any time, but in the years after the fallout it would have been impossible. Instead, it was legislated into being when the pain created by the dearth of computer scientists, information technology professionals and engineers was at its worst and the voice of industry was at its loudest. THEN came the economic downturn in the tech sector known as bursting of the bubble.

And for a few years it made the growth and establishment of the Institutes original vision a difficult proposition. For several years many universities cut back on CS programs or closed them all together. The Institute for its part, held study. However that was not the trajectory originally intended. The truth is that the need for these professionals never went away. Even in the down years with the tech company washout and larger companies reducing their workforce, more positions were opening than were being lost.

Offshoring, which still goes on and has its place, was never the solution to a well educated, available work force on site at the workplace. And the rebound came first slowly, and then with a full head of steam. Amazon continued to grow, social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest took off. Google went public and Microsoft, Adobe, Real Networks continue to produce. Major manufacturing companies such as Boeing and Paccar continue to hire large numbers of technology professionals. To add to that, a new field has become increasingly prominent and important to all organizations. Information Assurance and Cybersecurity.

The last three years have seen the Institute of Technology grow at the rate it was first intended, with around 25% growth in student population year to year. We have over 700 students at
the Junior, Senior and Graduate level in five programs. We have two established Centers of research. We are likely to see more programs added and additional centers created in the next few years.

Mike Monroe, COO of the WTIA, recently wrote about his visit last week to the campus. 

Here is to another fifteen years.

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