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Taking GIX to the Next Level

Date: February 28, 2020

By Shwetak Patel, Interim Executive Director, GIX

GIX has made tremendous progress since it was first announced a little less than five years ago. The new GIX Steve Ballmer Building located in Bellevue’s Spring District was designed and built, academic and industry partnerships have thrived, and two student cohorts have graduated with the third cohort well underway.

At GIX, we are always evaluating how we need to adapt and iterate to stay nimble and flexible to meet the demands of industry. As we approached this five-year milestone, we conducted a formal review of how best to evolve to stay at the forefront of technology innovation education. One of the inputs to this process was a report we commissioned last summer from the Boston Consulting Group.

As an outcome of this five-year review process, the GIX Executive Board, made up of University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Tsinghua University President Qiu, has decided to move forward with two actions at this time.

First, they will appoint a transition team who will work with the GIX Executive Board and other stakeholders to explore how to best create a new entity for GIX that will oversee and support all operations, with oversight from the founding partners. Currently, GIX is co-run by UW and Tsinghua University whereas this new structure will be a standalone entity. With how quickly things change in the technology and innovation world, we want GIX to have even more flexibility and agility to adapt quickly, and to iterate on new ideas and concepts. The new entity will give GIX flexibility in how it can operate, allow new opportunities to expand, and give it the freedom to scale. The Master of Science in Technology Innovation (MSTI) degree will continue to be housed with the University of Washington and the Masters of Science in Engineering (Data Science and Information Technology) will continue to be housed with Tsinghua University, both having strong affiliation to the new entity.

Second, it will begin the search for a full-time dedicated GIX Executive Director. I will remain as Interim Executive Director until the new position is filled. GIX has established its anchor program in the graduate degrees. Looking forward, we want to scale this program and deliver on the overarching mission which includes additional programs such as training. We determined this effort needs a full-time Executive Director. We are searching for a leader with an entrepreneurial background and startup mindset, experience on the international stage, and one who also knows how university systems and programs operate. The ideal candidate will be forward-looking, visionary, with strong fundraising and managerial experience. We expect this effort to take at least six months.

It’s also important to know that these actions will not impact our current or incoming GIX students, rather we believe that the flexibility to iterate on the program will continue to enhance the student experience.

While the transition team does their work, our goals for the coming year are clear: a continued focus on student recruitment and a top-notch student experience, piloting the new Robotics MSTI option, piloting new training programs, and hiring a full-time Executive Director. We look forward to taking GIX to the next level!