The Boeing Company and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to help support and grow the number of Washington state students earning bachelor’s degrees. The state’s two largest private employers are pledging $25 million each over the next five years to the new public-private Washington Opportunity Scholarship program and endowment signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire. Together with matching state contributions under the new program, this effort will raise $100 million in scholarships for low- and middle-income students—the first step toward creating a billion-dollar endowment by the end of this decade.
“These new contributions help forge a partnership between the public and private sectors to put higher education on a stronger financial footing and enable more students to go to college,” explains Microsoft general counsel and senior vice president Brad Smith, who chaired a Higher Education Funding Task Force appointed by Gov. Gregoire last year. “Given tougher state budget climates here and across the country, we need new and creative steps to ensure that our colleges remain open to talented students from all economic backgrounds. This new initiative gives our state and our students a new opportunity to develop the skills that a globally competitive economy will require.”
A collective concern exists among various military and aerospace companies and organizations—from prime contractors to technology vendors and systems integrators to researchers, and more—as current and future generations of engineers. Will the mil-aero community run out of hardware and software engineers? Is the industry not alluring, sexy, exciting, or dynamic enough to attract and retain good engineers, scientists, and researchers? Time will tell. In the meantime, this geek applauds current efforts, including those of Boeing, Microsoft, and Washington state!