Spokane’s capacity for innovation in high tech and bioscience

“High Tech” generally refers to the fields of electronics engineering and computer science, but there is no formal definition. The field can and does include other disciplines including alternative energy, sometimes includes “biotech” and others.

As a rough measure of Spokane’s capacity for innovation, we can look at the number of 4 year and graduate degrees awarded in relevant fields. (Another is to look at issued patents – which in the case of Spokane, have dropped by negative 75% since 1998. Not good.)

Using the IPEDS database, data was collected for degree completions in certain subjects, from 2001 to 2009. Due to issues with the data tables and the data (see notes below), this chart is primarily useful for looking at the overall trend, but perhaps not the specific numbers.

The following chart combines the BS in computer science, management information systems, and the information sciences degrees (during the years it was offered), and combines the BS in biology and chemistry degrees awarded at Eastern Washington University. Other fields were also counted such as computer engineering technology, but due to very low numbers or missing data, these files were not included in the chart.

Important: the IPEDS data for biology degrees in 2004 was missing. Rather than estimate a value, the value was set to zero, accounting for the unusual drop in 2004 in the red line.


  • The interpretation is that Spokane’s capacity for high tech has fallen sharply with the number of CS/IS/MIS degrees falling to less than one-third of the 2001 total.  The number of degrees awarded in electrical or electronic engineering (a new program at EWU) is 10 or below each year, and is also low at GU.
  • Spokane’s capacity for biology and chemistry has increased by about one-third.

Other local colleges add a negligible number to the above totals. According to IPEDS, Gonzaga had four B.S. in computer science graduates in 2009 and 37 in Biology and 3 in chemistry.

An additional factor is the area’s capabilities in graduate degrees in the sciences and engineering.

  • At this time, there are no longer any graduate degrees in engineering offered in Spokane.
  • From 2006 to 2009, EWU averaged 5.75 Masters degrees in computer science. EWU offers the only on campus Masters in a technology or engineering field in all of the Spokane area.
  • From 2005 to 2009, EWU averaged 5.6 Masters degrees in biology. Other than an MS in Exercise Science at WSU-Spokane, this is the only masters degree in science offered in the Spokane area.

Update: August 2013 – In 2012, EWU graduated 65 BS CS degrees and 3 M.S. CS degrees, plus 23 BS in electrical engineering and 4 BS in mechanical engineering degrees (the latter two are relatively new programs at EWU). GU had 11 BS CS grads, 50 BS CE, 21 BS EE and 52 BS ME. The EWU MS CS program is the only graduate technical degree offered in the Spokane market.

Important Notes

The IPEDS data is difficult to work with as it is organized by program code numbers, not by alphabetical order of the degree name.  Program codes change from year to year and the same program may appear under different program codes, in the same year.  Some years include an overall total for the program while others include the total number of male and female graduates separately (but not program total).  In a few places, some programs are listed twice!  The BS in biology showed only 1 graduate in 2004, which is not likely correct.

Several programs were examined but due to few graduates, they were not included in the final chart, above. The other program data appears in the data table, below.

It is possible that due to the difficulty of working with the IPEDS data that some individual numbers are incorrect. It seems unlikely that the overall trend curves would not change significantly.

Data table after the break …

Data Tables

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
BS, Comp Sci 33 49 47 43 72 93 82 56 99
MS, Comp Sci 10 1 3 9 0 0 0 0
BS, Elec Engr (New) 10 9 2 0 0 0
BS, Comp Engr Tech 2 3 2 8
BS, Biology 100 118 110 90 102 0 92 78 88
MS, Biology 7 3 5 7 6
BS, Chemistry 31 30 23 24 28 11 14 5
BS, MIS 16 22 7 21 57 54 79 62 66
BS, Biochemistry 0 0 0 0 0 2

August 2013 – For 2012, the MS Comp Sci total is 3 and the MS, Biology is 15. The BS in MIS at EWU was 29.

2 Responses to Spokane’s capacity for innovation in high tech and bioscience

  1. Pingback: More higher education data charts for Spokane « Spokane Economic And Demographic Data

  2. Pingback: The importance of a research university to creating a sci-tech economy « Spokane Economic And Demographic Data

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