Lake Washington Institute of Technology joined forces with two other institutes of technology this month to collaborate in four key areas to bring industry-aligned talent to the Cascadia Innovation Corridor’s workforce needs.
Microsoft President Brad Smith announced the partnership between LWTech, British Columbia Institute of Technology in Canada and Oregon Institute of Technology at the two-day Cascadia Corridor Innovation Conference on Sept. 12, where the three polytechnics signed a memorandum of understanding to solidify the move.
“This is really just the beginning,” LWTech President Dr. Amy Morrison Goings said. “This will be really exciting for our local community…Nothing is off the table at this point.”
Gov. Jay Inslee and then-British Columbia Premier Christy Clark formally created the Cascadia Innovation Corridor when the two signed a memorandum of understanding last year “affirming their shared interest in creating regional economic opportunities for innovation in the technology sector,” according a 2016 press release.
“Government and business leaders in British Columbia and Washington are collaborating on the development of a new 21st century tech corridor — the Cascadia Innovation Corridor — to encourage meaningful and results-driven innovation and collaboration,” the 2016 press release reads.
That cross-border collaboration now extends to academia.
The idea to join forces with the two other schools began only this year, Goings said.
“This came together very quickly because we have such strong commonalities,” she said. “It didn’t take long to realize how much we had in common and how much opportunity there is, especially for our students and our faculty.”
President of Oregon Institute of Technology Dr. Nagi Naganathan agreed.
“The Pacific Northwest is fortunate to have three technology-focused institutes that share similar student-oriented, industry-aligned, applied learning missions,” Naganathan said in a press release. “Our complementary programs and polytechnic pathways support industry and close regional, national and international skills gaps. As polytechnics, our institutions by nature operate under entrepreneurial philosophies that are part of the culture of the Cascadia Corridor. This is a natural fit that will yield a significant (return on investment) for our region.”
The memorandum the three institutions signed outlines four areas for collaboration.
The first area of collaboration is student focused.
“We’re exploring a number of different opportunities,” Goings said.
Opportunities like articulation and credit transfers, joint projects and skills competitions and mutual campus visits.
“We also pledge to look for meaningful exchanges for international students visiting the U.S. and/or Canada, to broaden their original experiences in a welcoming manner,” the memorandum reads. “We strive to acquaint them with a model of international collaboration in the spirit of global sustainability. We also pledge to explore opportunities for our programs to remain affordable in a manner that is reasonably equitable, in recognition of the value of this collaborative.”
The second area of collaboration focuses on faculty.
“We will invite faculty at our institutions to participate in meaningful exchanges and trans-border endeavors,” the memorandum reads. “We may also want to explore additional opportunities to jointly visit other polytechnics, both in North America and elsewhere in the world.”
The third focus is on industry. This means working with businesses to create internships.
The last focus is on applied research.
“Their collective engagement in the Cascadia Corridor will focus on close collaboration with industry, meeting its requirements, and providing in-demand career opportunities for graduates,” according to a press release.
The three institutes provide technology, engineering and other applied degrees at the associate, bachelor and master’s level.