When William Boeing started building airplanes in Seattle in 1934, Silicon Valley would be nothing but orchards for another 30 years. When Intel introduced the microprocessor in 1971, the term Silicon Valley had just been coined in a magazine article. 

That same year, some coffee aficionados in Seattle started brewing their own, and called it “Starbucks.” Also in 1971, two running coaches in Oregon started making their own shoes, and named their company for the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike.

Four years later, Paul Allen and Bill Gates founded Microsoft. While the dot com bubble was bursting, Jeff Bezos launched his everything store, Amazon.com.

Together, these five companies have accounted for trillions of dollars in revenue, and millions of jobs. What is it about innovation in the Pacific Northwest that has produced such large, sustained impacts across many industries? Peak to Peak, the newest immersion experience from the School of Information Studies (iSchool) aims to help students find the answer to this question.

Peak to Peak is a sister program to the iSchool’s well-known Spring Break in Silicon Valley and EntreTech NYC immersion programs.

Peak to Peak will give students a firsthand look at the companies, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and their way of life (both personal and professional) in Seattle and Portland. This program is open to Syracuse University students from all majors, all schools and colleges, and all degree programs.

The 3-credit experience includes a week-long travel program in August where students study technology and interact with innovative firms and the Syracuse University alumni working at them to understand how their best practices may be applied elsewhere. 

Tentative visits include: Starbucks, Nike, Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and Smarsh, with additional company visits still being planned.

The Peak to Peak cohort will travel to an innovative ecosystem and spend 5 days meeting with information-based organizations. Daily site visits will provide the cohort with a well-rounded vision of the innovative ecosystem and its cultural context. 

Students will be required to study the ecosystem and its companies prior to the trip, record their observations during the trip, and provide a reflection piece upon their return. Students will also be required to synthesize their observations by reporting back best practices to a local Syracuse firm.

In 2017, the Peak to Peak trip takes place August 13-19, with pre-trip classes meeting online for four days in early August.

The trip is a competitive program with limited space, and applicants are encouraged to attend an information session to learn more about the program and application requirements.

Information sessions will be held on Monday, March 27 at 4:00 pm, and Wednesday, March 29 at 4:30 pm, in the ICE Box (2nd floor, Hinds Hall). 

More program information is available on the Peak to Peak website, and questions can be directed to Julie Walas Huynh, Director of Alumni & Student Engagement at the iSchool at jlwalas@syr.edu