Tsinghua University of Beijing is partnering with the University of Washington to start a graduate institute in Bellevue’s Bel-Red Corridor that could grow to 3,000 students, reports the Seattle Times.
The Global Innovation Exchange, or GIX as it will be known, will start with a few dozen students in fall 2016, next fall, both American and Chinese. It could grow to 3,000 students in a decade. At least two other international universities are expected to join up.
Faculty from both universities will teach in English. Students will have the chance to earn a master’s degree over 15 months. GIX will focus on sustainability, health, inequality, environmental issues, transportation and clean energy, and more.
The program builds on the fields of computer science and electrical engineering but will span many other disciplines. The work will be project-based, with Chinese and American students working together in such fields as cloud computing and the “Internet of things,” the concept of connecting everyday objects to the Internet to make them smarter and capable of doing more.
Microsoft is donating $40 million to support the effort.
This is a great development for our state, where a persistent gap between the skills that job candidates have and the skills that Washington’s employers need, is growing. A 2013 study found 25,000 jobs have gone unfilled in our state because employers couldn’t find qualified candidates.
That number was projected to double by 2017. Steps to improve education capacity in high demand fields are essential to closing the gap. Having a world-class technology and innovation center in the Puget Sound area has the potential to significantly contribute to closing the gap and bolster Washington’s position as a technology leader.