Gov. Locke rolls out technology education initiatives

“Gov. Gary Locke met with legislators, educators and industry leaders on Wednesday to roll out his technology education initiatives for enhancing Washington’s thriving high tech industry.Locke said the knowledge-based economy depends on investments in higher education. His initiatives will help address the technology industry’s need for bachelors and masters degree graduates.Technology is creating tremendous opportunities for the citizens of Washington, Locke said. In the past five years, household median income in Washington has jumped 20 percent, and much of that growth has been driven by technology. Forty percent of the total wage growth in the past five years has been from wages earned directly in high tech companies. But we can’t rest on our laurels, Locke added. If we want to continue to spawn new technology companies, retain and expand the ones we have and attract still others from elsewhere, we must wisely deploy our strategic resources, including K-12 and post-secondary education, broadband communications and digital government. Locke noted the strategic importance of Washington’s higher education institutions and stressed the need to continue to build on these strengths–for example by continuing to enhance the state’s research base in biotechnology at both the University of Washington and Washington State University. The state also must help to secure the private funding that, added to state and institutional funding, will enable construction of a badly needed Computer Science and Engineering Building on the UW Seattle campus.Citing Tacoma’s outstanding community and technical college system, Locke also proposed investing $7.5 million in state funds, matched with $4 million from private sources, to create a technology institute at the UW Tacoma. This partnership would put Washington on a path to produce 1,000 graduates each year in emerging and expanding areas of technology by the end of this decade.The plan also calls for smooth transitions from community and technical colleges to universities. This will ensure that students can learn valuable skills and progress efficiently toward a four-year degree as they move through the system at their own pace. The project also will create new opportunities for women, minority and disadvantaged citizens.The Tacoma location will help cement the city’s role as a technology center while serving as a statewide resource for technology graduates.The initiative also will serve as a model for government, industry and education working together to sustain and enhance Washington’s knowledge-based economy.In addition, Locke proposed investing $22 million in expanding and starting up new high-technology programs in colleges and universities statewide, including programs that help bring high-tech jobs to more areas of Washington. Other investments totaling $20 million will help keep tech faculty salaries competitive, bolster proficiency and interest in technology in high school, and promote advanced research.Locke announced the first private-sector investment in the proposed technology institute at UW Tacoma: Intel Corporation has pledged a computer equipment donation valued at $270,000 over the next two years.The UW is one of Intel’s focus schools and the company has a history of significant support for the university at both the Seattle and Tacoma campuses. “