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08/28/2002 - Lightning Growth Strikes EWU Computer Science

Shazam! While you weren’t watching, Spokane became a major player in broadband connectivity. Shazam! When you blinked, Spokane’s downtown quietly became a hot bed of small, but mighty, high tech businesses. Shazam! While your back was turned, a small regional state college became a university with explosive growth.

“Eastern Washington State University is the fastest growing public university in this state. Our enrollment is up by 22 per cent since 1997, and still climbing,” says Steve Jordan, President of EWU. Within the university are many points of high accomplishment, one of these is the computer science department, which contributes heavily to the well-being of Spokane’s technology community. In fact, EWU’s Computer Science Department is now the fastest growing CS department at all public universities in Washington.

With over 500 students in computer related majors, courses are taught both on the Cheney campus and at the Riverpoint campus -- a facility EWU shares with WSU. This year, the EWU CS graduate enrollment is up by 300% above last year’s. EWU CS at Spokane draws students from people already working in Spokane’s technology industry, who are frequently supported by their companies. Other students, working at labs at Riverpoint, help local business through student projects. Recent EWU student projects included web site development for a WSU researcher and the West Plains Chamber of Commerce.

Thanks to the $1 million 2002 EWU/TINE Congressional Grant, (see EWU’s Technology Initiative receives $1 million Launch programs, faculty, and equipment are expanding to meet the needs of students and industry. One major new initiative, Cyber Security, is on the way. The EWU cyber security outreach program, INSSI, will soon extend to many areas of the Inland Northwest--- reaching laboratories, other universities, and private companies. Outreach plans include placing interns, student employment, joint projects, grants, and research and development alliances.

Within the university, new courses in cyber security are under development ---including cryptology and foundations of informatics. The CS faculty will be expanded immediately by four tenure track positions so new, quality courses can be offered without jeopardizing foundation instruction.

Expanded enrollment and expanded programs necessitate equipment expansion. Thanks to a previous Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) grant, equipment for distributed (parallel) computing is already in place at both campuses. Now, funded solely by the TINE/FIPSE grant, EWU CS has obtained three new terabyte class servers and 59 new high performance workstations. Thanks to additional EWU internal funding, EWU CS faculty will have EWU’s first all-laptop faculty teaching environment.

Shazam! While the parking garage distracted attention, the Spokane metropolitan area and the Terabyte Triangle gained a major technology partner.

Billie Moreland
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