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UW's intro to computer science classes are in high demand. Photo via Helene Martin.
A packed house at a UW introductory computer science class. Photo via Helene Martin.

A group of 23 technology leaders in Washington state — including representatives of Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google and other tech giants — are asking the state Legislature to approve $40 million in capital spending to help fund a new, $110 million University of Washington computer science building.

CSElogo2text_500The second building, proposed last fall, would allow for a doubling of enrollment in the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering program. The department granted 315 degrees in June, its largest class ever, but the program is at capacity and was able to accept less than a third of the undergrads who applied in the last admissions period.

In a letter to legislators, the tech leaders say the expanded capacity is critical for the state’s competitiveness.

The letter reads, in part …

Our region’s computer science community has fast become one of the leading areas for growth and innovation in the country. Home to the world’s largest software company, online retailer, and online travel company, our stellar pool of talent is charting new territory in mobile technology, enterprise software, cloud computing, interactive media and cyber security. The University of Washington is a huge engine for this industry, home to one of the top ten programs in the nation.

The UW Computer Science & Engineering program (CSE) is among the top national suppliers of students to leading high-tech firms, countless regional tech firms, and startups in our state. In the course of their education, the majority of CSE undergraduates participate in co-ops or internships with these local companies. Because Washington State has such a vibrant computing industry, more than two-thirds of UW CSE graduates remain in state. The UW CSE program is engaged in a broad range of research and interdisciplinary initiatives that produce far-reaching educational and economic benefits to the university and region….

As representatives of companies and businesses that rely on a ready supply of high quality computer science graduates, we believe it is critical for the State to invest in this sector in a way that ensures its vibrancy and growth. Our vision is for Washington to continue to lead the way in technology and computer science, but we must keep pace with the vast demand.

Here’s a PDF with the full text of the letter and signatures. The remainder of the funding for the $110 million project would be raised privately.

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