Silicon Valley Campus raising profile

Vice Chancellor Brandt

Eighteen months ago, a robot cut the ribbon on the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus, marking a new era for our leadership in this global hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our role in Silicon Valley—an extension of our mission of education, research, and service—is focused on four key areas:

  • offering professional master’s programs designed to support the diverse workforce in the region;
  • supporting campus innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • supporting UCSC Silicon Valley Extension in providing top-notch professional training; and
  • providing a space for campus events and those from the community.

As the principal officer for the Silicon Valley Campus, it has been rewarding to see UC Santa Cruz succeed on all of these fronts. We are on track to need additional space in the coming years to support all of our endeavors there.

Some of the most exciting work, of course, is connected to the exceptional academic programming we’re offering. The Silicon Valley Campus is home to our Games and Playable Media program, one of the top-ranked programs of its kind in the world. This masters degree program offers students an intensive, real-world experience, augmented by deep and frequent industry interactions enabled by the program’s Silicon Valley location and veteran faculty. In the past year alone, more than 50 members of the interactive entertainment industry have visited the Games and Playable Media students. Alumni have gone on to launch acclaimed games and join major gaming companies, such as Naughty Dog (Sony), Activision, and

This is just our start. This fall, we anticipate launching a professional master’s program in Serious Games, which harnesses the rich experience of gaming and channels it into education, training, advocacy, and other applications beyond entertainment. This program will formalize and expand work already being done in the Games and Playable Media program such as Peace and Order, a virtual reality game by GPM student Chelsea Manzano which explores the human consequences of the drug war in the Philippines. The Silicon Valley Campus will serve as the home base for four new faculty members in the Baskin School of Engineering who will join these two programs.

Additional programs under development include Human-Computer Interaction and Natural Language Processing. Each program is expected to educate up to 60 graduate students.

The campus is also home to the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust, a project by Sociologist Rebecca London and Professor Emeritus Rod Ogawa that will enable teachers, principals, social workers, public and mental health professionals, judges, and probation officers to share information in real time about students and the services they are receiving.

Many of you probably read about SVLink, our new incubator and accelerator in Silicon Valley that will support UC Santa Cruz innovators, as well as those from other UCs or the general public. The goal is to ensure that our cutting-edge research and the technologies and ideas created continue to serve Californians. SVLink will provide a convenient way for startups to secure the space and support needed to launch their product.

UCSC Silicon Valley Extension has three major enterprises: UC Extension certificate programs, Smarter Balanced, and UC Scout.

For more than 50 years, UCSC Extension has offered accredited certificate programs to ensure professionals stay competitive in the rapidly changing workforce and employers have the skilled workers they need. Serving about 15,000 students annually, Extension offers courses, certificate programs, skills badges, and continuing education in 36 disciplines in the high demand areas of engineering, technology, biosciences, education, design, and business.

UC Scout provides online college preparation and advanced placement courses, serving thousands of students in California and around the world who might not otherwise have access to courses they need for college admission.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium serves 7 million K–12 students nationally using computer adaptive technology to provide standardized assessments that are ADA-compliant and available to English language learners and special needs students.

Finally, the Silicon Valley Campus event space has served as a venue for public talks by our brilliant faculty, such as the Kraw Lecture Series, a variety of UC-wide meetings, and gatherings hosted by local leaders. We are currently averaging a major event every week and will soon see the day when we’ll have to turn people away.

The visibility and importance of UC Santa Cruz in Silicon Valley has never been greater—and we’re just getting started.