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University of Washington Lands $3M in State Funding

— July 24, 2019

IT jobs are on the rise in Washington State. The University of Washington’s recent round of state funding means the number of people capable of filling those jobs will rise, too.

In the last few years, the amount of open technology jobs available in Washington State has grown from hundreds to tens of thousands and the reason for this is not far-fetched. As the number of jobs continues to rise, it is only expected that the number of persons available to fill these positions will also rise. But, the reverse is the case. For several years, the University of Washington has been trying to bridge this gap without making much progress.

Finding the right candidates that have the required skills to take up these roles has been a major challenge. However, it looks like this milestone will soon be non-existent following the recent funding awarded to the institution by the state. 

The $3 million funds will now make it possible for the university to double its computer science student base, thereby awarding more degrees annually. Before the funding, there were around 300 students offered the program, but now the number has grown to 620.

One of the leading computer science professors of the university, Ed Lazowska spoke about what the new development afforded the school. He made it clear that following their low tuition at the university, the only way they could grow their student base was for additional support to be provided. And the kind gesture extended to them by the legislature would definitely make this possible.

However, the funding could be regarded as a breakthrough following a four-year effort by some well-meaning members of the legislative arm to raise the money. 

The group, comprised of Washington State Reps, was led by Drew Hansen (D) and Chad Magendanz (R). Right from day one, their plan has always been on how to grow the number of students in the computer science department at UW. To achieve this, they planned to increase the department’s budget by $2 million annually, which would see them double the program over the span of four years.

Lines of computer code on a monitor; image by Oscar Nord, via
Lines of computer code on a monitor; image by Oscar Nord, via

In 2015 and 2016, the school was allotted the additional $2 million as planned but experienced a setback last year when they only received $1 out of the proposed $2 million. However, recently, they were awarded $3 million which, according to Professor Ed Lazowska, does not only complete the job, but also leaves them with extra money.

According to him, the leftover funds will be used to equip the computer science department with more staff including professors, teaching assistants and others who could contribute to the program.

He equally made it clear that there was no way the university could have taken more students without making more resources available. Doing this would obviously reduce the level of the quality of education the school provides, undermining their effort towards producing qualified computer scientists. Students need the best training possible to be ready to tackle the kind of challenge most IT jobs in the state now requires. And to that, the computer science department obviously needed to be funded.

Besides the funding awarded to the computer science department, the University of Washington has also raised $110M to construct a new start-of-the-art facility to house the new intakes. The fund came through the donation of various tech institutions including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others. 

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