When UCSC meets Silicon Valley, great things happen

Lynda Rogers, Dean, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension

Every day at UCSC Silicon Valley Extension, from the early morning through the late evening, the most wonderful thing happens: our students arrive.

Women and men from around the world congregate in study groups, run through presentations, and prepare for class. The hubbub dies down as classes start and they disperse, taking with them their passions and ambitions. These are the professionals of Silicon Valley: the innovators, the designers, the educators, scientists and engineers; the people whose ideas could transform our future. These are the people for whom I work—and their numbers are growing.

UCSC Extension operates in the Venn diagram that unites the world-renowned University of California, Santa Cruz, and the fast-paced empire that is Silicon Valley. We enjoy the best of both worlds: high-caliber instructors who bring industry experience to the classroom, and UC-approved courses that reflect the latest tools and technologies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

We attract students like Prajakta Badhe, who after earning a certificate in Software Engineering and Quality, landed a job with a Silicon Valley start-up she learned about at our 2014 Tech Career Fair. We’ve opened the door for professionals like Kyle Shin, who after of two years of computer programming courses had launched his first app, Fite Time, in the App Store.

Silicon Valley tech isn’t limited to engineering. Clinical trials, regulatory affairs, and medical devices have the potential to revolutionize health care. Every industry needs project managers, as well as marketing directors, technical writers, human resource managers, and executive assistants. In 2014, we hired a research firm to generate a list of the job titles in highest demand in our region. The top three? Software engineers, marketing managers, and business analysts.

Guess which of our programs saw the biggest increase in enrollment over the last year? Computer Programming saw a 29 percent increase, Software Engineering and Quality grew by 26 percent, and Marketing Management saw a whopping 82 percent surge in enrollment.

In-demand courses match up with in-demand jobs, and Bay Area professionals know that they can find the courses they need at UCSC Extension. We see it in our numbers: We have enrolled more than 14,000 students this year, representing 30 different countries, and we expect to enroll 18,000 students by the close of the academic year. This rise in enrollment has boosted our revenues and kept us in the black.

UCSC Extension bridges two great ideas: UC’s longstanding tradition of rigorous academics, and Silicon Valley, the birthplace of tech, known for its “disruptive” approach to business. We couldn’t provide a better launching pad for our students.

They know it, too. Recently, I overheard two UCSC undergrads discussing which UC is the best.

"UCSC is the best campus. Why? Silicon Valley,” one said. “It's right there. If you hope to land a career in Silicon Valley, your best bet is to graduate from UCSC."

That’s why students gather in our building—to exchange ideas, question the status quo, and gain job skills. To all the career-changers, lifelong learners, entrepreneurs, educators, engineers, and scientists: We welcome you to Silicon Valley. Join us.