The Institute exists to serve the state of Washington and especially the citizens of the South Puget Sound region, with a broad goal to help improve the quality of life of every citizen, including those who never take a class from the Institute. A primary focus is to provide high-quality bachelor's and master's level programs centered in computing science and engineering.
The Institute is also a catalyst and center for collaborative basic and applied research, experimentation, and design. Many of the students served by the Institute are either women, or from underrepresented populations, or non-traditional (older, working, with families, placebound, etc.), or first-generation college students without strong role models and support structures. Focused groups include:
- College-prepared high school students who seek a competitive university high-tech bachelor's degree, and want to begin that degree in a community college, perhaps close to home.
- Community and technical college students who desire to transfer to a competitive university bachelor's degree program in a high-tech field when they are prepared. The Associate of Science degree programs and the Associate of Arts (alternatively named Associate of Arts and Sciences or the Direct Transfer) degree programs provide good preparations for these students. Those programs incorporate and encourage the building of four-year university oriented mathematics, science, and critical thinking foundations. Competitive students in these programs can apply to enter the Dual Admission program after their freshman year at participating community colleges.
- Working professionals preparing for a career change into high-tech or a career step within high-tech. The Institute offers both bachelor's and master's level programs to serve these students. It also offers credit remediation courses and non-credit professional courses (through the UWT Office of Continuing Studies). Community college partners offer a full spectrum of preparation courses. The bachelor's program offers a schedule of evening courses for part-time working students to complete the program in the evening. The master's program is an evening program, accommodating working professionals.
- Working professionals trying to keep current with evolving and emerging technologies. The Institute allows and encourages non-degree seeking working professionals to take courses at the Institute on a regular or occasional basis. Their presence as a peer student is beneficial to degree seeking students as well. The Institute also has part-time lecturers who are working professionals with unique expertise teaching courses that complement those of the regular full-time faculty. Other valuable continuing education courses are available through the Professional Development Center. The Institute offers a regular lecture series that is of interest to the community of working professionals, as well as the students and faculty.
- Community and technical college students pursuing the Associate of Applied Science degree. The Associate of Applied Science is foremost a vocational degree with a skill-based focus providing training in computer technology that is a good preparation for entering the workforce after two years of study. The degree does not intrinsically include the level of mathematics and science foundations that the upper division of a four-year degree depends upon, and is not typically transferable to four-year universities. The Institute has developed, with specific partner community colleges, unique articulated Associate of Applied Science - UWT Transfer Option programs that include university-level general education and critical foundation courses necessary for upper-division study. These provide students the opportunity to be prepared to pursue a bachelor's degree after going to work. This option addresses the often heard concern that vocationally prepared high-tech workers must "start over" their education if they decide to pursue a bachelor's degree in high-tech.
- Middle and high school students who would be well served to consider preparing for a professional career in high-tech. The Institute, in partnership with a number of community organizations, offers workshops, seminars and lectures to inform, motivate and support K-12 students in the pursuit of a career in high-tech. These programs are particularly focused on providing opportunities for underrepresented groups in high tech.
- Industries and community organizations that can benefit from partnering with a community of university faculty and students. The Institute is proactive in building partnerships with industry and the community to create quality internships for its students, provide research collaboration opportunities with faculty and students, and promote technology transfer of faculty research. The Institute also provides lectures and conferences in partnership with the community to disseminate knowledge and to encourage and support economic development.
- Vocationally-prepared high-tech workers that seek a bachelor's degree, but don't have the traditional university transfer preparation. The Institute is encouraging the Professional Development Center to create a certificate program that could bridge the present gap with a combination of nontraditional "integrated" non-credit courses. The program might be able to build on work experience and competency based entry points to shorten the traditional chain of foundation courses.