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Current efforts in WA legislature to increase computer science training

Our industry creates a wide variety of jobs, employing people with a wide variety of preparation.  But at its heart, our industry (and our state’s overall economic growth) is powered by the “essential ICT occupations” as defined  in WTIA’s recent ICT Economic & Fiscal Impact Study.

University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering is by far the state’s leading program when it comes to preparing Washington’s students for these leading-edge jobs – jobs as software developers at companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redfin, Tableau, Zilllow, and hot startups.

That’s why the leaders of 23 top technology companies and civic organizations – from A(mazon) to Z(illow), including WTIA – have recently written to the Legislature supporting a capital appropriation to partially fund a second building that will accommodate growth for UW CSE.  Currently, only about 1/3 of the UW students who seek to major in CSE are able to do so, due to space and staffing limitations.  This is nuts!  On one hand, our state will always be a net importer of software developer talent: we are the software development capital of America (it’s true – more developers work here than in any other region!), and smart kids who grow up in Kansas need to get out of Dodge.  On the other hand, Washington’s top students should have the opportunity to prepare for Washington’s top jobs; today we fall far, far short of meeting that goal.

There are several moves afoot in the current legislative session that would make a real difference if enacted.

One is H.B. 1813, introduced by Reps. Drew Hansen and Chad Magendanz, which includes a number of smart provisions related to computer science in K-12.

Photograph taken November 2003 by Ed LaCasse
Photograph taken November 2003 by Ed LaCasse

A second is the Governor’s request, in his capital budget, for partial funding of a second building to accommodate growth for UW CSE.  Hopefully this will make it into the Legislature’s capital budget.

A third is work by Reps. Hansen and Magendanz that will hopefully lead to operating funds enabling expansion of the computer science programs at UW CSE, WSU EECS, and WWU Computer Science – the three programs that leading employers have told these legislators are their principal in-state suppliers of talent.

Learn more about the recent legislative letter here.

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