About World Lab

Dr. James A. Landay,

Short-Dooley Professor

Computer Science + Engineering Department University of Washington

Dr. Yuanchun Shi,


Department of Computer Science Tsinghua University

There are many urgent problems facing the planet: a degrading environment, a healthcare system in crisis, and educational systems that are inadequately training innovative thinkers to solve the problems of tomorrow. A balanced approach is required to solve these problems: a balance between design and technology, a balance between human-centered and technology-centered approaches, a balance between academic and industrial approaches to project development, and a balance between different world cultures and ways of thinking. What if we could reduce a family?s energy and water use by 50%? What if we could improve everyone?s physical fitness and reduce mental illness by 50%? What if we could educate any child, anywhere in the world, to perform at the level of the best students in the world today, while ensuring these children excel at innovative thinking? A research and educational program that solves these grand challenges must include a new model of interdisciplinary research and education that takes a long view and encourages risk taking and creativity, while not being distracted by the incremental approaches that are encouraged by today?s funding and publication models.

World Lab is a new research and educational institution that is ideally suited to tackle these grand challenges. The World Lab is sited jointly between two of the world?s leading computing and human-centered design institutions, the University of Washington in Seattle and Tsinghua University in Beijing. The faculty will be comprised of leaders in both technology and design. The World Lab will educate global leaders in research and practice through a Ph.D. program and a two-year Master?s program. Students and faculty will spend substantial periods of their time in the partner country (e.g., 1 year of the Master?s in China and 1 year in the U.S.). Faculty will regular spend time at both locations (e.g., 1 year every five years at the partner site). The Lab will have strong connections with industry partners who have an active participation in the lab?s projects, educational programs, and technology evaluation and diffusion. The World Lab in Seattle will be connected to the World Lab in Beijing by a large e-wall that allows the sense of presence of the other site as well as collaborations at the shared window.

World Lab :
A cross-cultural, interdisciplinary institute applying technology to attack important problems while producing the leaders of tomorrow