Bill Gates speaks on campus for grand opening of computer science complex


Debby Garcia

Bill Gates speaks to computer science students and various special guests at the ribbon cutting ceremony of The Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall. The building was made possible by generous grants from both the Gates and Dell Foundations. 

Hannah Jane DeCiutiis

Bill Gates touted UT’s position as one of the top computer science institutions in the world during festivities for the grand opening of the University’s brand new computer science complex, which the Microsoft co-founder and chairman helped fund.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex will be a new home for the computer science department. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated a $30 million challenge grant to help fund the $120 million complex. The complex also includes the Dell Computer Science Hall, which was funded by a $10 million donation from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Before the building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gates said the diversity in the computer science field is a driving force in making UT a top-notch computer science school. 

“This university is one of the best in the world because it combines many things,” Gates said in his speech. “It combines scale; it combines a spirit of public service. So not only is it a top-ranked computer science institution, but also is one of the best or the very best at reaching out to get kids into the field.” 

President William Powers Jr. said the new complex represented a step forward both for UT and for science as a whole.

“The history of civilization can be written in a series of advances in the tools that humans use,” Powers said in his speech at the ceremony. “Computation, of course, is the latest step in that long history. Today’s dedication of this magnificent complex is a very significant step in the life of the University of Texas and in the realm of computer science.”

Gates gave a closed lecture to computer science students, where he spoke about his experiences starting Microsoft and the possibilities for computer science to aid in such endeavors as curing malaria. Gates said the new computer science complex is much more sophisticated than what he experienced while learning computer science growing up. 

“When I was fascinated by computers, they were very big, very expensive and very hard to get to,” Gates said. “My local university, the University of Washington, only had a few dozen, and they were locked up because they were so precious, and so I had to find ways to sneak in at night, get tied into some project [and] convince people I could help improve these computers just to get a little computer time.”

The computer science department hosted >goto_GDC, the title of which is a play on the “goto” command found in several programming languages. The event included tours of the new complex, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a closed lecture by Gates and a party that featured games and free barbecue as well as Amy’s Ice Cream.

Published on March 7, 2013 as "Gates visits campus".