Seattle Contradiction: Geek City USA and Bachelors Production

From the magazine Seattle Metropolitan, comes the article “Smartest city ever: 50 ways Seattle will change the world.” I hope the claim is true, but like all magazine articles from rags denoted entirely to a city, the lens is more than a little biased.

What I find interesting about Seattle, and Washington state in general, is that the state has the most engineers per capita of any state, while for the number bachelors granted in per capita of people age 18-24 the state is ranked 37 out of 50 states (and 38 out of 50 in percentage of bachelors which are in science and engineering.) While the University of Washington and Washington State are both great institutions, it seems that there is a huge disconnect between the higher education being provided in the state and the jobs that are fueling the Washington economy.
Recently, the state of Washington has started the process of starting a new branch campus of the University of Washington system in Everett, which is about 40 minutes north of Seattle, the idea being that the branch campus will focus on science and engineering. This is a good start, but what I personally would love to see is a private institution of higher education in Seattle with an emphasis on science and technology (“Washington Institute of Technology” anyone?) Why private? Well it is a simple truth that the UW and Washington State dominates the public debate about higher education in Washington state as well as dominating the funding coming out of Olympia (small as this funding is in comparison to similar universities in the same league as these institutions.) Further I actually think a little competition between, say UW, and a high caliber private university would actually greatly benefit UW (in the same way I think Berkeley, UCSF, and Stanford certain form a better grouping of institutions than either would be on its own.)
Now if only I can find some of those Microsoft gazilllionaires who want to start a new university…

7 Replies to “Seattle Contradiction: Geek City USA and Bachelors Production”

  1. Clearly another case of the cosmic intelligence balance principle: for every ounce of intelligence you eek out of this world, a cerationist is created to counter balance your gains.

  2. Yeah, this is a nice town with lots of smart people, but I can never take these sorts of articles seriously. Seattle doesn’t deserve the “smartest city ever” title until it seriously improves math and science education at the secondary level.
    If my experiences tutoring local high schoolers (mostly private school kids, to be fair) and teaching college freshmen are any indication, Washington’s math education is weak. My current University has a sizable fraction of students who need to start out in algebra, which is a bit worrisome to me. And many of the curricula I’ve seen from Seattle schools are just plain unfortunate.

  3. I would love to see a WIT start up in this state. Uw is respectable in many ways, but overall our Engineering and Science opportunities are a bit lacking.
    The thing is there is already a Wentworth IT. Seattle IT would be SIT, which may be an interesting moniker and a basis for jokes.

  4. i’ve also heard that there are more bachelors (in the strict, non-degree sense of the word) in seattle as well, i.e. proportionally more single males than females. huh.
    i’m a native seattle-ite too 🙂

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