UW News

April 18, 2016

Board of Regents approves first University of Washington master’s program through Global Innovation Exchange

The University of Washington Board of Regents has approved the Master of Science in Technology Innovation (MSTI) degree, a 60-credit interdisciplinary program developed by the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), in collaboration with the UW departments of Computer Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering, the Foster School of Business, the Information School and the School of Law.

Shwetak Patel, chief technology officer for GIX.

Shwetak Patel, chief technology officer for GIX.Matt Hagen/University of Washington

The MSTI degree will be the first U.S.-based program offered through the Global Innovation Exchange, a partnership between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University, with foundational support from Microsoft. GIX breaks down the barriers between theory and practice, offering students the opportunity to work on real-world challenges with faculty experts and industry professionals in a project-based, globally-focused learning environment.

Launching in fall 2017, the newly approved 15-month degree focuses on the technology development, design thinking, and entrepreneurial skills needed to invent, build and launch innovative products using connected devices – a vital element in the development of the “Internet of Things.” Under the guidance of leading UW professors and industry mentors, students will gain hands-on experience in the processes required to create new technology solutions, plus the business skills to bring them to market.

“The new master’s degree is a landmark in industry-academic collaboration across the university and with multiple external partners that creates a great opportunity for innovation readiness for top students across the world,” said Vikram Jandhyala, Vice President for Innovation Strategy at the UW and co-CEO of GIX.

Following a cohort-based model, students in the new master’s program will advance together over five consecutive quarters through three experiential phases: preparation, practice and launch. Working in small teams, students will be immersed in a culture of rapid prototyping, ideation, critique and iteration, with practice pitching product ideas and getting customer feedback. In the launch phase, students will apply their learnings by developing a product idea far enough that it could solve a business challenge for an existing enterprise, become a startup venture, or simply demonstrate the student’s ability to build real-world solutions.

The multidisciplinary curriculum is integrated across the three phases of the program, including:

  • Design-thinking courses that teach students how to create and communicate new technology ideas within a user-centered design process
  • Software and hardware development, end-to-end prototyping, interface development, data management and machine learning
  • Entrepreneurship courses covering team-building, startup funding, intellectual property law and marketing

“The program’s intent is to teach students just enough in each area to build their confidence in pursuing their own innovations in high-impact fields, such as health and sustainability, and improving standards of living both locally and globally,” said Shwetak Patel, chief technology officer for GIX and UW’s Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering.

Leveraging the strengths of GIX and close ties with China, students in the MSTI program will be part of an international cohort.  Students may choose to be part of a dual-degree option which includes the opportunity to study in Beijing and earn a Master of Engineering in Information Technology from Tsinghua University, as well as the MSTI from UW.

“Technology innovation requires developing a global mindset to have a true impact,” Patel said.

Job opportunities are exploding for innovators in the connected-device space, including mobile and wearable computing, smart objects and the Internet of Things. According to the company Wanted Analytics, hiring demand for designers with these skills has risen by 322 percent since 2014, with “creativity” topping employer skill needs when hiring for Internet of Things positions.

For the University of Washington, recently named the world’s most innovative public university by Reuters, the launch of this new master’s program is part of the university’s Innovation Imperative, an integrated approach to driving positive change through the empowerment of students to learn, discover and build solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.

Information on how to apply for the Master of Science in Innovation Technology starting in fall 2017 will be available in July. More details at: www.techinnovationdegree.uw.edu.


For more information, contact gix@uw.edu.