What I Have Learned in This 15-Month Intensive Master of Science in Technology Innovation Program at University of Washington GIX

A summary of my grad school study experience at the newly established Global Innovation eXchange as one of the first cohort students.

Fall 2017: September 27th–December 15th, 2017

510 A: Programming for Digital & Physical User Interfaces

Credits: 4
This course mainly covered web development: coding in HTML/CSS/JS, streaming data from sensors on mobile devices, the application of APIs. In the second half of the course, we coded in Python and tried the use of Python libraries like NumPy and OpenCV.

520 A: Design Thinking for Technology Innovation

Credits: 2

521 A: Design Thinking Studio

Credits: 3

530: Essentials for Entrepreneurship

Credits: 3

Winter 2018: January 3rd–March 16th, 2018

Sr. Research Engineer John Raiti at UW College of Engineering created the triangulated course structure for the winter quarter, which consisted of 512, 513, 514. In brief, 512 should teach us about sensors and circuits; 513 should teach us data management and signal processing, and 514 was where knowledge we learned from 512 and 513 came together to make something real.

512 A: Introduction to Sensors & Circuits

Credits: 3

Dr. Lyu from Tsinghua University on bio-sensing.

513 A: Managing Data And Signal Processing

Credits: 3

514 A: Hardware/Software Lab-1

Credits: 4

522 A: The History & Future of Technology

Credits: 2

Spring 2018: March 26th–June 8th, 2018

Spring 2018 was quite an effort-demanding quarter. 511, 515 and 523 all had a considerable amount of assignments every week. Actually, like all design assignments, there would never be an ending if you pursue an “even better” deliverable. To balance the workload and let students learn fabrication techniques earlier so they can do a better job in Lab-1, GIX has moved 511 A to the first quarter.

511 A: Fabrication & Physical Prototyping

Credits: 3

In-studio fabrication review.

515 A: Hardware/Software Lab-2

Credits: 4

Our team reviewing the code for dynaTac.

523: User Research & Evaluation Studio

Credits: 3

532 A: Introduction to Finance and Accounting for Entrepreneurs

Credits: 2

Sara from Boeing introducing Boeing HorizonX to us.

Summer 2018: June 18th–August 17th, 2018

524: Visual, Industrial and Interaction Studio

Credits: 3

Annabelle Gould, our instructor for visual design studio, reviewing our layout practice.

531: Planning and Managing Hardware/Software Development

Credits: 2

Field study at a local factory (no photo allowed inside the building).

533: Corporate and IP Law

Credits: 2

Ryan McBrayer & Steve Bishop from Perkins Coie sharing on Patent Litigation.

534: Building Effective Teams

Credits: 3

540: Pre-Launch Studio

Credits: 2

Fall 2018: September 26th–December 14th, 2018

541: Launch Seminar

Credits: 2

Henrique Malvar, distinguished engineer at Microsoft, visiting us as guest lecturer. He was a major contributor to H. 264 codec, WMA audio codec, JPEG XR.

542: GIX Integrated Launch Studio

Credits: 10

  • Interaction with the industry: Seattle is one of the major tech hubs in the world. High-level execs from tech companies/NGOs (e.g., Steve Ballmer, Amit Mital, Spencer Rascoff, Kevin Johnson) and senior politicians (e.g., Gary Locke, Christine Gregoire) visit GIX regularly. Students at GIX have plenty of chance to communicate with them.
  • GIX Mentorship Platform: GIX created a network of engaging mentors for the student to connect. These mentors are mainly Seattle-based engineers/venture capitalists/consultants/attorneys. These seasoned professionals are enthusiastic about mentoring us in a wide range of topics, from detailed technical questions to wisdom in life.
  • Consortium group: currently there are seven Consortium members and one supporting partner (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). They support us not only financially, but also give us chances to work on real projects and show to the world. For instance, Team FlaminGo is now in Las Vegas demonstrating their work at the CES 2019. Without Consortium member T-Mobile, this would not be possible.
  • Facilities: GIX has offered us top-notch fabrication facilities in the Maker Space, and THEY ARE FREE. I know in many schools you need to pay for what you build, even at UW Fluke Hall’s CoMotion MakerSpace, 3D printings were charged per gram. Here at GIX, your imagination and diligence are the only limits for you to create.
The FlaminGo team is demonstrating their work at CES 2019, sponsored by T-Mobile
  • It is a good program for people who have 1–2 years of working experience and want to be a rounded product innovator. It would be very challenging for new grads to get the most from the program. Some contents, especially the business side courses, require hands-on experience to fully understand.
  • For those who want to gain deep knowledge in a subject, dedicated departments/schools like HCDE or CSE should be a better choice.
  • A challenge for new grads who join the program is that we do not have long summer quarter break, there would be no chance to do a decent internship, and that would make the job hunting hard.
  • At last, my advice for any new cohort students: Please fully engage in the program, don’t start looking for a job from the very beginning. 15 months will pass very quickly. To respect your and others’ time, you should immerse into the program. Eventually, when you look back, you will find it a fruitful journey. I guarantee.

A product creator living in Seattle area.

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