Family brought Jan Youtie to Georgia Tech. Her husband had a long history with the Institute, and she had always been impressed by his friends from Tech. She was also no stranger to Georgia universities, having received a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in political science from Emory University and worked at Kennesaw State University as the assistant director of the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research.
In January 1992, Youtie began her own Georgia Tech journey as a senior research associate with the Economic Development Institute, now the Enterprise Innovation Institute, or EI2. She joined forces with the School of Public Policy (SPP) in 1998 as an adjunct associate professor.
In her time at Georgie Tech, Youtie has made notable contributions to economic development in Georgia and internationally, as well helping mentor more than 100 School of Public Policy students.
“Jan is a very thoughtful and kind person who always wants the best for our team. She has a quiet demeanor with a deep wealth of knowledge and common sense that is a rare find these days,” said Lynne Henkiel, director of EI2’s Economic Development Lab.
Now, after 30 years of service to Georgia Tech, Youtie has retired.
Most recently, she served as director of policy research services and principal research associate in the Economic Development Lab. She also directed the Technology Policy and Assessment Center in the School of Public Policy (SPP), as well as SPP’s and EI2’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) co-lab. To round it all off, she retained another position in SPP as an adjunct research scientist.
Youtie’s research focused on technology-based economic development, advanced manufacturing, emerging technology assessment, bibliometric and patent analysis with peers in China, and innovation and knowledge measurement and evaluation. She is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, 20 book chapters, and two books.
“Georgia Tech is losing a very valuable asset in its portfolio of economic development focused on public policy. She will be sorely missed,” Henkiel added.
Far-Reaching Development Work
Youtie has teamed up with colleagues across the Institute to participate in research projects that reach across the state and country and even internationally.
Among other things, Youtie has worked alongside Philip Shapira, professor in the School of Public Policy, on the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(GaMEP), funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the state of Georgia. The program, a unit of EI2, works to increase U.S. manufacturing productivity, efficiency, and technological performance, as well as reduce costs.
“Jan Youtie has made a lasting contribution to the Georgia manufacturing community and the state as a whole via her 25-plus years of effort in developing, managing, conducting, and analyzing the Georgia Manufacturing Survey (GMS) every two to three years,” said GaMEP Director Tim Israel. “The results of this survey have helped influence manufacturing policy and programs in our state and guided our companies’ growth and prosperity. I have greatly enjoyed working with her on the GMS for many of these years and will miss her dedication and intellect.”
Shapira and Youtie also teamed up to help create the Mid-sized Cities Technology Development Initiative, which led to the establishment of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Centers of Innovation. Now, the Center works with businesses across the state to help them grow.
“In every project, I have been amazed by how Jan always manages to deliver research outputs that are creative, influential, robust, and on time!” Philip Shapira said. “That the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy and the Enterprise Innovation Institute are now widely recognized as thought leaders and analytical powerhouses in innovation policy and technology-based economic development is in no small part due to Jan’s extensive and groundbreaking contributions over many years.”
David Bridges, EI2 vice president, echoed those sentiments, highlighting how her work was foundational to projects overseas.
“Jan has worked extensively in Europe, Asia, and Latin America over her career,” Bridges said, “She and Juan Rogers in the School of Public Policy wrote and spoke extensively on the importance of technology extension in Latin America. That research led to projects in Chile and the large effort in Colombia.”
Bridges added that Youtie’s work also included developing foresight research on the future of innovations for the Army and pioneering societal and ethical impact analysis for a National Science Foundation grant Georgia Tech received in 2015 connected to nanotechnology infrastructure.
Preparing Students to Tackle Problems Head-on
As STIP director, one of Youtie’s areas of focus was to engage the next generation of public policy researchers. She led the STIP Georgia Innovation Internship program for University System of Georgia graduate students from its inception in 2015 through 2020, when the pandemic hit. In all, 50 students interested in coupling science and innovation to economic development and public policy went through the program.
For the past few years, Youtie served as one of the instructors for the School of Public Policy’s Policy Task Force program. In the two-class series, public policy seniors spend a year working with local clients to help solve their policy problems.
Youtie sees the program as yet another way to provide Georgia Tech students with a chance to see the practical applications of the skills they’ve learned in the classroom.
“The Policy Task Force mastery model lets students understand the importance of reworking deliverables so that the outcomes meet and, in most cases, exceed client expectations,” she said.
Youtie helped mentor this year’s task force students as they tackled issues ranging from clean energy to the racial wealth gap and economic development.
“Jan has become a great friend through our collaboration on task force, where she brought invaluable insight into practical, client-centered work that she deployed to guide the students learning how to marshal their analytical skills in service of solving client problems and producing professional-quality results,” said Professor Diana Hicks, the other task force instructor.
Youtie has assisted and guided over 100 students in the School of Public Policy, including 46 research assistants.
“Jan Youtie has made an indelible impression upon the SPP community,” said Cassidy Sugimoto, Tom and Marie Patton School Chair. “We are grateful for the many hours she spent teaching our capstone undergraduate course and mentoring graduate students in research projects. Jan brought an incredible expertise and generosity to the School — simply put, she is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed.”
Having spent a career at the intersection of the humanities and development, Youtie hopes that Georgia Tech students — particularly those in the liberal arts — aren’t afraid to put their skills to good use.
“Have confidence that what you have learned can help solve real-world problems,” she said.