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Institute of Technology Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, most people still heard the strange mating call of a dial-up modem when accessing the web and few people had ever driven a hybrid car. No one referred to their phone as “smart.” And Gov. Gary Locke cut the ribbon on the UW Tacoma's Institute of Technology.

Technology has rapidly evolved since and the Institute of Technology has grown and diversified to keep pace.

“Despite the economic crises and the budget cuts, the Institute today is a vibrant academic unit, with almost 300 students and with a faculty who have been internationally recognized for their contribution to the fields of engineering, computer science, information technology and education”, said Orlando Baiocchi, who has been the Director of the Institute since 2005.

When the institute was launched in October 2001, it offered only a bachelor's degree program in computing and software systems (which had actually begun in 1999). The CSS program was modeled on a program designed by UW Computer Science and Engineering faculty.

Since then, the institute has added a Master of Science degree in computing and software systems and undergraduate degrees in computer engineering and systems, and in information technology and systems. It also offers a bachelor of arts on computing and software systems and a minor in applied computing for those whose primary interest is applying and leveraging computing in another professional area. Earlier this year, the original CSS program was renamed the Computer Science and Systems program, to better reflect the degree's focus.

Even though the dot-com bubble burst shortly after the Institute of Technology was launched, its enrollment has consistently grown, bucking national trends. More than 300 undergraduate and 40 graduate students are currently studying at the institute. As of autumn 2010, the institute has graduated 470 new technology professionals with undergraduate degrees and more than 100 with master's degrees.

The Institute has also built a strong advisory board made up representatives from industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, Cisco, Hewlett Packard and Intel as well as local technology and community leaders and supporters, including the Port of Tacoma.

How it all started

In 2001, State Bill 6153, proposed by the governor and passed by the Legislature, established the Institute of Technology at the University of Washington Tacoma to address the growing demand and to spread the prosperity of the high-tech economy to more residents of Washington.

UW Tacoma raised nearly $5 million from private donors and local government to help create the Institute. The state matched that with $5 million in state funds.

Professor Larry Crum, who had created the CSS program, became the institute's first director. Crum retired in 2005 but remains on the faculty, helping develop new courses.

The Institute of Technology was given a statewide mission with 15 community and technical college partners. The goal was to increase bachelor's and master's graduates that would support and fuel the growth of Washington's high-tech industry and provide every Washington citizen access to an opportunity to prepare for a career in the field. A particular charge of the institute was to reach out to women and other underrepresented groups. The Institute also maintains the Math, Science and Leadership program for area schools students from the 7th to the 12th grade, with emphasis on those who would be the first generation in college.

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Written by: 
Beth Luce / March 9, 2011
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, Associate Director of Communications, johnbjr@uw.edu or 253-692-4536