2016 Tech Impact Awards: Tech Impact Champion

Congratulations, Ed Lazowska!

By Gianni Truzzi September 16, 2016


This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

Ed Lazowska, Ph.D.
Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

When Ed Lazowska arrived in Seattle 39 years ago as an assistant professor, both the University of Washington and the region were very different places. In computer science, he was the newest of only 13 faculty members. The regions tech industry largely consisted of Boeing, Fluke and Physio-Control. Microsoft at the time was still a dozen people in Albuquerque.
Today, the UWs Computer Science & Engineering Department rivals Stanfords and Carnegie Mellons for attracting tech talent and major research accomplishments that Lazowska helped bring about. As the universitys department chair, his effort to recruit leading data scientists included personally reaching out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who provided $2 million from Amazon to endow two professorships and personally met with researchers. A decade after leading fundraising to build the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, he is doing so again to build a new CSE facility that will help double the centers capacity.
Our job, Lazowksa asserts, is to provide socioeconomic mobility for bright kids in this region.
Driving opportunities through research remains his passion, as his own studies in high-performance computing, multicomputer processing and big data science have proved. An early technical adviser on the formation of Microsoft Research and a member of two national advisory committees on science and technology policy, he has promoted private and public investment in engineering things that one day in the future will be used in game-changing products.
Lazowska believes big data and cloud computing lie at the heart of 21st century discovery. He helped found and now leads the UWs eScience Institute, a cross-campus partnership that helps scholars in fields such as astronomy, biology and sociology take advantage of data analytics to enhance their research. Given the regions far-reaching cloud expertise, Lazowska says, This is an area that Seattle has the potential to own.

Lazowskas other initiatives include promoting K-12 STEM education and gender diversity in the UW program. He champions the notion that all students should study computer science to cultivate the computational thinking skills needed for the new century.
Lazowska marvels at the regions transformation into a place with distinctive and innovative activities in the broadest range of areas. With his trademark enthusiasm for the UW and the local tech sector, this celebrated educator, researcher, adviser and booster has played an important role in that transformation.
Previous Tech Impact Champions
Tech Impact Champions are chosen not only for their achievements in technology but also for championing the regions broader tech sector. Past inductees in Seattle Business magazines Hall of Technology Champions, previously called Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, are:
2012: John McAdams, former CEO, F5 Networks
2013: Jeremy Jaech, cofounder, Aldus and Visio, and chair emeritus, the Technology Alliance
2014: Steve Ballmer, former CEO, Microsoft
2015: Tom Alberg, cofounder, Madrona Venture Group

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