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Computer Science Program Moving into Downtown Boise

By: Sherry Squires   Published 1:49 pm / June 24, 2014

D_1406_038_045One of Boise State University’s most in-demand high-tech programs will move into The Gardner Company’s latest development, City Center Plaza, adjacent to The Grove in downtown Boise. The university will lease space for its fast-growing Department of Computer Science in the new building that will be completed in 2016 on the west side of the U.S. Bank Plaza.

The State Board of Education approved the lease agreement on June 19. Boise State announced the move during a press conference today on The Grove. During the event, Gardner Company Chairman Kem Gardner shared how important scholarships had been to him as a student and pledged a $1 million gift to Boise State for scholarships.

The computer science program will be located in the same building as Clearwater Analytics and within short walking distance of about 20 more of Boise’s top technology companies.

“This move will place Boise State’s computer science students and faculty in the heart of Boise’s downtown technology community,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “It will provide our students an unparalleled opportunity for internships and interactions with industry, spur creative and collaborative research of mutual interest and allow local business greater access to our programs.”

The Treasure Valley has a vast unmet demand for computer science professionals. Boise State already is working with industry and government partners to increase the number of computer science graduates and expects to double the number of graduates to at least 50 for the 2014-2015 academic year. More than 90 percent of Boise State’s computer science graduates take jobs in Idaho.D_1406_038_087

“It is absolutely vital to Idaho’s economy that we provide additional computer science graduates, and we cannot do that without expanding,” said Boise State Vice President for Research and Economic Development Mark Rudin. “This partnership with Gardner Company allows us to expand in a cost-effective manner, in addition to providing a wealth of other benefits for our program and the Treasure Valley technology community.”

Boise State will move its full computer science department, including faculty offices and classroom teaching space, into City Center Plaza. Computer science currently is housed in the Micron Engineering Center on campus. Engineering programs — especially undergraduate mechanical engineering and graduate-level materials science — also are growing rapidly and will use the vacated space.

The new building will be completed by summer 2016. The university will occupy 53,549 gross square feet, the full second and third floors of the building. Boise State will sign a renewable annual lease with a purchase option at a rate far less than the cost to build on campus. The favorable lease rate and purchase option are an example of Gardner Company’s commitment to education in the Treasure Valley.

“Our company has a long history of developing for the technology industry and supporting public transportation. However, the fact that we can integrate the transit center, the convention center expansion and additional retail space with the educational and business opportunities afforded by Clearwater Analytics and Boise State University is a testament to the importance of this site and the vision of local leaders across a variety of agencies and organizations,” said Gardner Company Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist.

Ahlquist noted that the project demonstrates the ability of the private and public sectors to leverage each other’s strengths when they share a vision.

“We think these collective efforts will not only transform this site, but also downtown Boise as a creative hub of technology and commerce,” Ahlquist said.

D_1406_037_066Partners and contributors to the project include the Gardner Company, Boise State University, Clearwater Analytics, Valley Regional Transit, Greater Boise Auditorium District, City of Boise, Ada County Highway District and Capital City Development Corporation.

Boise State will work with the Gardner Company throughout construction of the building to ensure that the space is designed for optimal student learning, helping students develop the skills that high-tech employers need the most. Computer Science Department Chairman Tim Anderson said the space will be adaptable to new technologies and configurations, and be influenced by the design of the best modern teaching spaces and high-tech company environments.