By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Students at Washington State University  will soon have the opportunity to participate in international engineering and computer science programs through a partnership with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

As early as fall 2016, engineering and computer science undergraduate students and faculty members can apply for an exchange program on a per semester basis where they will experience engineering as it is taught and implemented in Switzerland.

Within the next one or two years, the universities will also offer a dual master’s degree program for engineering and computer science majors. Enrolled students will earn two master’s degrees, one from each university. Students will spend one year at Zurich and one year at WSU.

Joseph Iannelli, executive director of the engineering and computer science programs at WSU Tri-Cities, negotiated the partnership. WSU Provost Daniel Bernardo signed a memorandum of understanding last winter.

Iannelli said the partnership expands upon WSU Tri-Cities’ opportunities for polytechnic, hands-on learning in the international sphere.

“Students will be globally educated so that they may be successfully prepared for the multicultural demands of a globalized society,” he said. “This is another exciting initiative that puts WSU Tri-Cities at the forefront of innovative educational programs.”

Students will learn from distinguished faculty and industry leaders while working on projects that provide an assortment of hands-on learning opportunities.

“This is one of those opportunities of a lifetime,” Iannelli said. “There is no question our students will have an enriching experience, both culturally and academically. They are going to be studying at a renowned Swiss university. We are very excited to be the first university in the state of Washington able to offer this particular program to our students.”

Armin Züger, professor at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, said while their instruction is normally in German, they created an extensive English-based program that allows students to come and study from all over the world. He said students don’t have to know German to participate in the program.

“We assume that more students will be interested in coming to the United States as a result of this partnership,” he said.

Students applying for the master’s double degree program will have to meet the requirements of both universities and be accepted into both master’s degree programs, Iannelli said. In both programs, only about one-third of the best applicants are accepted.

Iannelli said both universities plan to develop the program gradually, initially offering the opportunity to only a couple of students in the first few years.

“Through that small number of students, we have the chance to refine the program,” he said. “As students go back home, they tell their friends about it and we can grow the program from there.”

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences is a leading university of applied sciences in Switzerland. The university is a partner in developing and monitoring the solar impulse airplane, which currently circumnavigates the earth.


Joseph Ianelli, WSU Tri-Cities engineering and computer sciences, 509-372-7420,

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333,