The University of Massachusetts Lowell will dedicate its new school of computer and information sciences Wednesday to Android co-founder Rich Miner, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at the institution, university officials said.
A $5 million donation from Miner, along with a $2 million grant from the state, enabled the university to broaden its computer science program and establish a school, officials said.
The school, which was approved in June and opened ahead of the 2022-2023 academic year, is expected to draw more than 1,600 undergraduates and 300 graduate students in its first year, making it the largest academic program on campus, officials said. Among students who applied to the university this year, a record 12 percent declared computer science as their intended major.
“Computer science going from a relatively small department to now actually being, not just a department, but with this naming, becoming an actual school of computer science. It’s all very exciting,” Miner said in a phone interview with the Globe.
Miner and his business partners Nick Sears, Chris White, and Andy Rubin sold Android to Google in 2005. It now has about 3.5 billion users, Miner said.
Before co-founding Android in 2003, Miner studied computer science at UMass Lowell while he also wrote computer programs for the Commodore computer, tinkered with videoconferencing technology, and helped Avid Technology — the first computer video editing platform — take off, officials said.
“When I attended UMass Lowell, [computer science] was taught out of the top floor of a building that housed a nuclear reactor,” Miner said. “You can almost imagine leaky steam pipes of a nuclear reactor in there. It wasn’t quite like that, but it certainly wasn’t like, ‘This is the computer science department right here.’”
Miner said he intends to help the leadership of the new school to help with programming, recruiting, and research, he said.
“It’s been a fun ride and it’s a lot of ‘right place at the right time,’” he said of his technological successes. “It’s great to be in a position to give back a little bit, not just with my name but with some investment and some time.”
Chancellor Julie Chen is thrilled that the “old department” is now an official school named after Miner, since it’s important for students to see an example they can strive for, she said in a phone interview.
“I think that this new school of computer and information sciences says to those students that you can be that next Rich Miner,” Chen said. “You can be the one that creates Android, Google Ventures, that can have that kind of impact on the world.”
Miner is set to speak at the dedication ceremony on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Cumnock Hall, Room 201, on the university’s north campus.