University of Washington Bothell campus (UW Bothell)

University of Washington Bothell campus (UW Bothell)

UW Bothell pursuing state funds to boost STEM enrollment

The biomedical industry is looking for graduates and the university is seeking $1.5M to produce more of them.

As medical device and biotechnology companies look to grow in this community, their leaders are finding too few graduates from area colleges with the skills they need.

With a little financial aid from the state, the University of Bothell is hoping to increase enrollment in STEM programs and produce more graduates able to move smoothly into jobs in the growing biomedical industry rooted in Canyon Park near the campus, and the wider region.

The university is seeking $1.5 million in the next state budget to add spots in science, engineering and math degree programs. The money would allow for an increase of 210 slots and lead to an additional 70 graduates a year in six years.

“UW Bothell has built out programs without targeted state funding, however, tuition dollars do not cover the entire costs of building up these high demand programs,” officials wrote in the university’s budget request to Gov. Jay Inslee. “We will not be able to expand our programs in a timely manner to address the regional industry needs in the Biomedical Innovation Partnership Zone without these funds.”

With the money, UW Bothell would ramp up from 20 students in the fall of 2019, to 210 by the start of classes in fall 2024, according to Elaine Scott, dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Most of the new slots would be for juniors and seniors transferring from neighboring Cascadia College.

Specifically the dollars would cover salaries for the equivalent of 10 full-time biomedical related faculty positions and three-and-a-half full-time staff jobs.

Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, the incoming chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, said the move would improve symmetry between the focus of university STEM programs and the needs of those businesses.

“We’re basically trying to align the offerings of higher education institutions locally to fill the gaps of the workforce demands of our employers in the area,” he said. “They’re really having a hard time finding qualified workers.”

In 2007, the state Department of Commerce established the Biomedical Device Innovation Partnership Zone around a cluster of existing companies in Bothell.

The zone includes Bothell’s privately owned science parks, the University of Washington Bothell, and Cascadia College. Among the largest private biomedical companies in the zone are Philips Medical Systems, SonoSite Inc, Medicis Technologies, and EKOS Corporation.

There are an estimated 3,500 jobs in medical device firms, said Matt Smith, director of industry and resource development for Economic Alliance Snohomish County. He is also the volunteer chairman of the board for the Innovation Partnership Zone. The partnership zone is a subset of the life sciences industry in the region, which provides another 5,000 jobs, he said.

As firms in the industries seek to expand, a common refrain he hears from executives is a lack of graduates with the right skills.

“They say, ‘We need more engineers and we need more scientists and we can’t find locally.’ So they need to recruit them nationally and that’s expensive for them,” he said.

UW Bothell and Cascadia College are also looking to team up on construction of a new 40,000-square-foot STEM building with teaching facilities for both higher education institutions.

The university is requesting $35 million in the state construction budget for its portion. Cascadia College must submit a separate request for its share. As proposed, the building would open in fall 2021 and accommodate more than 500 students.

Inslee will release his budget proposal the week of Dec. 10.

It will serve as a starting point for state lawmakers when they craft a two-year spending plan in the 2019 session, which starts Jan. 14 and is scheduled to last 105 days.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

School lunch. File photo
School district distributes thousands of extra meals amid pandemic

Congress hasn’t renewed the program, which provided twice as many student meals for free last spring.

The Enumclaw Health and Rehabilitation Center, which is located by St. Elizabeth hospital, a senior living community, and a nursing home. File photo
Inslee lifts visitation ban at long-term care facilities

Starting Wednesday, a four-phase plan will allow restrictions at nursing homes to gradually be relaxed.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Aug. 5, 2020.
Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

King County among high-risk counties; several school districts will have remote learning in the fall.

The memorial service for Bothell police officer Jonathan Shoop on Tuesday.
Memorial honors fallen Bothell police officer Jonathan Shoop

After a motorcade through the city, the rookie cop’s two brothers spoke at a service Tuesday in Bothell.

King County Election headquarters in Renton on Aug. 4 for the primary election. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Inslee and Culp lead governor race; incumbent Dems ahead for Congress | Statewide results

Early results for governor, state schools chief, attorney general and more.

Democrats dominate King County legislative races | Election results

Here are the latest results for King County legislative candidates in the… Continue reading

Inslee mask graphic
Free mask event for King County residents, Aug. 4 in Bellevue

The drive-thru distribution event will offer two masks per person

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Sex ed, local control at heart of race for WA state schools chief

Incumbent Chris Reykdal faces five foes who argue he’s pushing too many state policies on school districts.

Inslee warns of stay home order as COVID cases rise

The governor urges young people, who are not getting infected the most, to curb their social habits.

Pandemic is spiking in South King County, governor says

Gov. Jay Inslee met with elected officials, health officials and business partners in Federal Way to hear concerns, suggestions about state’s response to COVID-19.

Sound Transit breaks ground on Federal Way Link Extension

The $3.1 billion project includes three new stations near Kent/Des Moines, South 272nd Street and the Federal Way Transit Center.