New Tech Impact Awards Recognize the Important Role of Technology Across Many Industry Sectors

 
 

When I first started my career as correspondent at Business Week’s Tokyo bureau in 1982, writing an article still meant banging away on an old manual typewriters. I remember the day they installed our first Wang word processor and put the old manuals in the hallway for the cleaners to take away. (I grabbed a couple of them and still have them in my garage!) I never missed the old typewriters, although I silently cursed when stories would mysteriously disappear from my word processor. And as great as it was to be able to move paragraphs around on a computer screen, we still had to print out the finished stories and hand them to an assistant who would retype the entire story into a teletype machine to send it to New York, where yet another assistant would retype it into Business Week’s publishing system. If somebody liked a story in our magazine, they would take a pair of scissors, cut it out, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and take it to the mailbox.

At the time, IBM was the king of computing, and I remember covering the frustrated efforts of Japanese companies to copy or steal IBM’s technology so they could continue manufacturing IBM-compatible mainframes. When I had breakfast with Bill Gates at the Okura Hotel one morning in 1983, I had no clue of how quickly his company would overshadow IBM as the dominant player in the computer business.

In the three decades since, of course, we have seen IT transform every area of our lives. Today most journalists file their stories straight from their laptops, and can reach a global audience in the blink of an eye. As incredible as the progress has been, the speed with which IT changes the way we do things continues to accelerate, fueled by ubiquitous new tools like sleek smartphones, wireless networks and web-based applications. One of the great joys of being editor of Seattle Business magazine has been the opportunity to follow Washington state’s tech-savvy community as it introduces products, services and business models that revolutionize one industry sectors after another from health care and education to retail and entertainment.

This year, Seattle Business magazine launched the Tech Impact Awards in cooperation with the Washington Technology Industry Association because we believe it’s important to honor the companies in our region that are having such a large impact on business and society. We received more than 100 nominations from companies across Washington and in a broad range of industries. The winners were selected by a judges’ panel that included Bharat Shyam, Washington state’s chief information officer; Sujal Patel, the president of EMC Isilon; Peter Wilson, engineering director at Facebook Seattle; Matt McIlwain, managing director at Madrona Venture Group; Elon Gasper, Senior Director of Research at Corum Group; Benjamin Beberness, CIO at Snohomish County PUD; Patti Brooke, former asst. director, Washington State Department of Commerce; and Ed Lazowska, chair of the University of Washington Department of Computer Science & Engineering. You can see the finalists here.

The winners will be announced at a gala event on the Skybridge at Washington State Convention Center on September 25. You can contact michael.romoser@tigeroak.com for tickets, or look for the winners in our October issue. 

Ed Lazowska Is the 2016 Tech Impact Champion

Ed Lazowska Is the 2016 Tech Impact Champion

Lazowska, University of Washington Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, will be honored at Tech Impact Awards event.
 
 

In advance of its annual Tech Impact Awards event next month, Seattle Business magazine has named Ed Lazowska its 2016 Tech Impact Champion. The award recognizes a lifetime of work building up the University of Washington’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering into one of the nation’s top 10 programs; leading the UW eScience Institute to help scholars in fields ranging from astronomy to biology take advantage of data analytics; and tirelessly promoting a vibrant regional tech industry.

Tech Impact Champions are chosen not only because of 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 Honorees, are John McAdams, former CEO of F5 Networks; Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft; Jeremy Jaech, cofounder of Aldus and Visio and chair emeritus of the Technology Alliance, and Tom Alberg, cofounder of Madrona Venture Group.

When 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 Bill & Melinda Gates 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 promoting 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 UW and the local tech industry, this celebrated educator, researcher, adviser and booster has played an important role in that transformation.

Lazowska will be inducted at the Tech Impact Awards, which will honor 19 technology leaders, at Showbox SoDo on September 21.