BOZEMAN — Montana State University in Bozeman on Friday announced it has received a $50 million gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation.
The donation will be used for a new building for the Gianforte School of Computing and computing-related fields such as cybersecurity, optics and photonics, electrical and computer engineering, and creative industries.
John Paxton, director of the Gianforte School of Computing, said, “A new building will bring our students state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs, research facilities and innovative collaborative spaces. Not only will a new building help our students be more successful, it will also attract more students to study a variety of areas that involve computing technologies, which provide boundless opportunities for graduates, especially those wishing to live and work in Montana.”
Having a single building will help foster interdisciplinary opportunities for students and faculty alike, Paxton noted, as personnel are currently dispersed across five buildings. It will also continue to strengthen opportunities for dual enrollment computer science courses for high school students in Montana.
“This building will be a tremendous benefit to our students as well as to the state’s rapidly growing high-tech industry, which needs more graduates with technology and digital skills,” Paxton said.
The building will also house classrooms for high school students to take dual enrollment courses and get a hands-on taste of the many complementary fields that rely on computer science, such as electrical and computer engineering, cybersecurity, optics and photonics. This facility will also help tomorrow’s students engage with technology-driven creative industries supporting interdisciplinary teaching and research in animation, film production, digital photography and music technology.
Computer science graduates are in high demand both in Montana and nationally. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 22% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
A 2021 report by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana found that members of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance expected to add 1,500 jobs in 2021 and that “growth projected in member and nonmember high tech businesses significantly exceeds average statewide economic growth.”
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, average national salaries of computer science graduates jumped 7.1% last year to $72,000.