Thursday marked the public debut of the Global Innovation Exchange, an exciting partnership between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University, established with $40 million in foundational support from Microsoft.
GIX will bring together students, faculty, professionals and entrepreneurs from around the world to collaborate on real-world technology and design projects. It will be based on a new campus located in Bellevue’s Spring District.
GIX is a long-term play. In the fullness of time there will be many programs. All will share a set of key characteristics that define GIX:
- project-based education
- global teams and perspective
- close integration of technology, design, and entrepreneurship
The first program, designed by a team led by UW CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel, will be a 15-month Masters program focused on the creation of digital devices that combine sensors, effectors, communication, advanced algorithms, and user interfaces to provide actionable information about the world. Think of Microsoft Band as an example of such a device, or your smart phone.
The project-based nature is a particular distinction. Teams of students from different disciplines and cultures will collaborate on a project over the entire 15 months of the program. Coursework will tightly integrated with project work.
Importantly, GIX is, for now, focused on Masters programs. As it grows, it surely will have an impact on our region’s technology workforce: our leading-edge tech companies hire students at the Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. level, and GIX alumni will have unique and highly attractive characteristics. GIX does not, however, impact our region’s critical shortage of Bachelors capacity in Computer Science and other fields of Engineering. Nor is GIX a research institute, although UW’s research capabilities will be strengthened because faculty will be added who will have research programs on the Seattle campus.
GIX is an element of the University of Washington’s Innovation Imperative, which also involves major expansion of UW CSE (also generously supported by Microsoft), and strengthened ties all across UW to the region’s innovation ecosystem.
UW CSE is thrilled to be partnering with Tsinghua, Microsoft, and other UW units in this exciting experiment!