A New Coaltion to Promote Information Technology

 
 

Technology executives like to complain of the lack of qualified computer technology talent to fill open jobs. Speaking at Thursday’s annual Washington Innovation Summit,  for example, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith spoke woefully of the 6,000 high-skill jobs unfilled at his company alone. This time, however, the leaders offered up a solution.

 

Bill Richter, president of EMC Isilon Storage Division, announced the formation of a special alliance of Washington tech companies focused on helping the state’s tech industry to stay competitive. The effort, which would include initiatives to promote education, included such founding members as Amazon, AT&T, Big Fish Games, Concur, INRIX, Isilon Storage Division/EMC, Microsoft, Synapse Product Development and the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA).

 

Richter said the coalition would draw attention to the important role played by the state’s technology sector. “We need to get attention and get our voice heard,” he said.  “If we do this right, then technology will be the first thing people will wake up with.” It's unclear however what specific educational initiatives the group will promote.

 

Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee made a brief stop at the conference, and made a plea for the tech industry and others to join hands with the state, providing public service assistance as well as expertise to the financially strapped state government.  After Inslee’s speech, Richter was seen talking to Inslee and promising, “I’ll call you,” followed by a friendly handshake.

 

 

2016 Tech Impact Awards: Tech Impact Champion

2016 Tech Impact Awards: Tech Impact Champion

Congratulations, Ed Lazowska!
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

WINNER:
Ed Lazowska, Ph.D.
Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

When Ed Lazowska arrived in Seattle 39 years ago as an assistant professor, both the University of Washington and the region were very different places. In computer science, he was the newest of only 13 faculty members. The region’s tech industry largely consisted of Boeing, Fluke and Physio-Control. Microsoft at the time was still a dozen people in Albuquerque. 
 
Today, the UW’s Computer Science & Engineering Department rivals Stanford’s and Carnegie Mellon’s for attracting tech talent and major research — accomplishments that Lazowska helped bring about. As the university’s department chair, his effort to recruit leading data scientists included personally reaching out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who provided $2 million from Amazon to endow two professorships and personally met with researchers. A decade after leading fundraising to build the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, he is doing so again to build a new CSE facility that will help double the center’s capacity.
 
“Our job,” Lazowksa asserts, “is to provide socioeconomic mobility for bright kids in this region.”
Driving opportunities through research remains his passion, as his own studies in high-performance computing, multicomputer processing and big data science have proved. An early technical adviser on the formation of Microsoft Research and a member of two national advisory committees on science and technology policy, he has promoted private and public investment in “engineering things that one day in the future will be used in game-changing products.”
 
Lazowska believes big data and cloud computing “lie at the heart of 21st century discovery.” He helped found and now leads the UW’s eScience Institute, a cross-campus partnership that helps scholars in fields such as astronomy, biology and sociology take advantage of data analytics to enhance their research. Given the region’s far-reaching cloud expertise, Lazowska says, “This is an area that Seattle has the potential to own.”
 
Lazowska’s other initiatives include promoting K-12 STEM education and gender diversity in the UW program. He champions the notion that all students should study computer science to cultivate the “computational thinking” skills needed for the new century.
 
Lazowska marvels at the region’s transformation into a place “with distinctive and innovative activities in the broadest range of areas.” With his trademark enthusiasm for the UW and the local tech sector, this celebrated educator, researcher, adviser and booster has played an important role in that transformation.
 
Previous Tech Impact Champions
Tech Impact Champions are chosen not only for their achievements in technology but also for championing the region’s broader tech sector. Past inductees in Seattle Business magazine’s Hall of Technology Champions, previously called Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, are:
  2012: John McAdams, former CEO, F5 Networks
  2013: Jeremy Jaech, cofounder, Aldus and Visio, and chair emeritus, the Technology Alliance
  2014: Steve Ballmer, former CEO, Microsoft
  2015: Tom Alberg, cofounder, Madrona Venture Group