SEATTLE, Oct. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Washington today announced that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is giving a major push to the campaign to build a second Computer Science & Engineering building on the UW campus with a $10 million gift.
"Our state's economy — and the world's economy — depends on innovation and on innovators. UW graduates with skills in computer science are highly sought after, yet we are turning away excellent students who want to pursue studies in the field because we simply don't have enough room," said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. "This generous gift from Amazon brings us closer to doubling our capacity and allows us to better meet both student and workplace needs, which will benefit our state and nation."
A long-time supporter of the University of Washington's Computer Science and Engineering programs, Amazon's gift is a significant boost in the UW's public-private partnership to raise $110 million for a new 130,000-square-foot building. The new building will provide the space needed for UW to double, to more than 600, the number of degrees awarded annually by the Department of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE).
"The University of Washington is a world-class institution, and we are lucky to have thousands of UW graduates inventing and pioneering in Seattle – including right here at Amazon," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. "We're proud to support UW as they expand their computer science program, which will benefit the whole community."
The 250-seat Amazon Auditorium and Gallery will be one of many new features that enhance the UW CSE student experience. Other key elements of the building include classrooms and educational labs, a sophisticated maker space, an undergraduate commons where students can study and collaborate, and research labs, including a 3,000-square-foot robotics lab.
The gift is only the latest way in which Amazon has supported the UW. For example, in 2012 Amazon established two $1 million endowed professorships in CSE — the Amazon Professorships in Machine Learning — to assist in recruiting two highly sought-after machine learning faculty members. The company also launched the Amazon Catalyst program — a collaboration with select universities aimed at identifying, funding and supporting bold, risky, globally impactful projects — at the UW last fall.
"Over the past 20 years, Amazon has grown into one of the leading and most innovative companies in the world, UW CSE has grown into one of the leading and most innovative computer science programs in the world, and Seattle has grown into one of the one of the leading and most innovative technology hubs in the world," said Ed Lazowska, UW's Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering. "Amazon's gift will help make it possible for UW CSE to prepare more of Washington's students for careers in Washington's booming technology sector. It's an investment in our collective future."
According to the Washington Student Achievement Council, the workforce gap in computer science – the gap between available jobs and prepared graduates – is far greater than in any other field. At the UW, student demand far outstrips program capacity: more incoming UW freshmen list CSE as their first choice major than any other field, and UW CSE currently can accommodate just one out of three qualified students who apply to the major. In addition, students in all fields recognize the value of a basic knowledge of computer science, so the demand is even greater – in the most recent year, 5,000 students enrolled in UW CSE's introductory courses.
"Amazon is a global company, but it's also a Seattle company," said Hank Levy, UW CSE's Wissner-Slivka Chair and department chair. "We are extremely thankful to Amazon for their support of UW CSE, and for the amazing impact they've had on Seattle and on the world."
Seattle-based LMN Architects are designing the building with a goal to break ground in January 2017 and open in 2019.
Images available for download: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/g1bhpsl81mstzzx/AABWY99Z5gKLDfTd5lyt3bzca?dl=0
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SOURCE University of Washington