CWU News

Senator Murray discusses technology need with CWU

US Senator Murray (fifth from left) and CWU’s Deborah Wells (far left) during a break in the Wenatchee meeting.This week, US Senator Patty Murray learned about what CWU and its Information Technology and Administrative Management (ITAM) program are doing to encourage more students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Murray appeared at the Mercantile in Wenatchee for discussions regarding her legislation, the Digital Equity Act of 2019. The bill would fund increased access to broadband connectivity, holding that digital literacy is vital to employment and careers.

ITAM professor Deborah Wells represented CWU at one of Murray’s panel discussion, which focused on, “what’s the demand for STEM employees in the workforce in rural areas, especially north-central Washington, and how to attract more women into the field,” Wells said.

“Senator Murray also asked what each organization represented there was doing to get more people into STEM,” she continued. “There is a shortage. The numbers vary about the amount of unfilled positions. One report indicates there could be up to three-and-a-half million cybersecurity jobs vacant by 2021. The bottom line is we need more cybersecurity experts all around.”

In response, Wells, who specializes in cybersecurity, talked specifically about the university’s Flex IT program. The competency-based program, with bachelor’s and master’s degree options, offers specializations in cybersecurity, along with administrative management, project management, and retail management and technology.

“We focus on non-traditional students, who don’t necessarily need to take classes on campus or be bound by a traditional 10-week quarter, but can have access to the same high-quality curriculum,” Wells explained. “That was something that Senator Murray was interested in hearing about.”

Wells also pointed out the ITAM focuses on helping students develop needed “soft skills.”

“Can you be a team player? Can you write a press release? Can you get up in front of an audience and make a presentation? Can you break down technical terminology into language that non-technical people—like the chief financial officer, or chief executive officer—can understand?” Wells explained. “That’s one of our missions in ITAM, to develop the ‘whole-person’ concept in our students.”

Murray’s visit to Wenatchee was to learn about efforts to promote and create STEM opportunities for both educators and students in Washington, and how her legislation would help close a digital skills gap.


Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

Photo: Senator Murray (fifth from left) and CWU’s Deborah Wells (far right) during a break in the Wenatchee meeting.