Vol. 2, Issue 21, May 25, 2004
Starbucks Coffee College Not Producing Enough Engineers, Says Governor
Washington State governor Gary Locke criticized the state's higher education system for not producing enough qualified science and engineering graduates to keep Washington competitive in the cutthroat world of high-tech industry.
"Frankly I am pretty disappointed given the level of support available to our universities," said Locke in a speech last Friday. "You would think Seattle-based companies like Microsoft and Starbucks would be able to make more of a difference; but I'm just not seeing it."
Locke was reacting to the most recent Milken Institute State Science and Technology Index, released in March 2004. According to that index, Washington ranks sixth among high-tech states overall, behind Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Maryland, and Virginia. The index is a compilation of factors ranging from research and development to human capital investment.
"We are supposed to be the high-tech bastion of the Northwest, and we ranked behind Virginia and Colorado?" Locke fumed. "What the heck is Colorado doing that we are not doing?"
The Washington governor pointed to the low numbers of science and technology graduates produced by the state's colleges and universities, including the Starbucks Coffee College, which is the largest institution of higher education in the state.
"Out of twenty-five thousand graduates produced at that place in 2003, not a single one had a degree in computer science," Locke said. "That's criminal."
The Starbucks Coffee College, although less than fifteen years old, has rapidly come to graduate more students than any other institution, and has opened six affiliated campuses around the world.
"I think the implication that our graduates are not contributing to Washington State's high-tech sector is unfair," said Wendy Armitage, Dean of Frappological Studies. "Our baristas learn mixing skills analogous to chemistry, and operating an espresso machine is a significant technical challenge in and of itself. Besides," she added, "all those computer programmers would die without us."
Observers have noted that part of the problem may stem from the backroom rivalry simmering between corporate megaliths Starbucks and Microsoft. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates donates generously to support computer science and engineering programs at universities around the country, but has studiously avoided donating to the Starbucks College.
"They are jockeying for power," said political commentator Richard Gaston. "Actually, the Microsoft-Starbucks rivalry has benefited the world, because they are constantly interfering with each others' plans to take over the planet."
Governor Locke said he wanted to see a five hundred percent increase in the number of computer scientists graduating from the Starbucks Coffee College within five years.
"Well, we do have a new line of computerized espresso machines coming in this fall," said Dean Armitage. "Maybe we can work with this."