A survey conducted in September by the Technology Councils of North America shows that Oregon’s executives are generally dissatisfied with the quality of technological education at the state’s universities. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents polled by the Technology Association of Oregon selected higher education as an area which required significant policy action by the state. The executives noted a shortage of available talent in the region, a judgment further reinforced by a high likelihood of hiring foreign workers.
While the tech sector accounts for a relatively small part of Oregon’s economy, the number of jobs in the industry is growing at nearly twice the rate of the state overall. The average annual salary in the industry is $94,000, more than double the state average.
The results of the survey come at a time when technology education at at Oregon State University is at a crossroads. The longtime head of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, Terri Fiez was abruptly dismissed from her position in September to the bafflement of many colleagues and industry professionals.
Although OSU responded to complaints by reinstating Fiez until next June, they have made it clear that her contract will not be extended beyond then. Since then, executives from IBM, Intel, and other companies have met with university administrators, expressing their dissatisfaction and concern with the situation. Fiez is viewed by many as an innovative educator among industry leaders, some of whom worry about the affect her departure will have on the program.
What do you think could help bolster tech education in Oregon?