PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is the first university in the state to receive European Union funding to support student and faculty research exchanges.

The funding is part of WSU’s focused initiatives to grow and expand international collaborations for engineering, computer science and other WSU faculty and students with leading overseas universities, including the Technology University of Dresden, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

Faculty, students contribute globally

An international experience through an overseas partner university is critical for introducing students to the type of global reality they are likely to experience in today’s multinational workforce, said Joseph Iannelli. A professor and founding executive director in the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at WSU Tri-Cities, he is leading international initiatives at WSU for engineering and computer science.

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Students in Zurich, Switzerland: Andrew Porter, WSU Tri-Cities, and Jonathan Whitley, WSU Pullman, on an undergraduate exchange semester and Talitha Johnson, WSU Tri-Cities, in the international double master’s degree program.

“These types of collaborations are important because we live in a globalized society,” he said. “When we provide this enhanced education, we graduate students who are ready to excel in their professions on the global scale.”

The experience benefits faculty by broadening their collaborations in a highly competitive research world: “Research is not limited by state or national borders,” he said.

Starting as a pilot initiative in the spring through the ERASMUS+ program, the EU funding will initially support a student and a faculty member from WSU at the Technology University of Dresden (TUD). It is one of 11 “universities of excellence” in Germany, with research focus areas that match well with WSU’s.

As a result, TUD and WSU have already begun a research collaboration in catalysis, a field of research preeminence at WSU. Other areas of collaboration include advanced concrete, cybersecurity and smart power grids.

A partnership memorandum of understanding has also been signed between WSU and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. It encompasses student and faculty exchanges, joint graduate program initiatives and research collaboration, particularly in smart power grids and biofuels.

Unique double master’s already underway

With Zurich University of Applied Sciences WSU has established an undergraduate student exchange agreement and an international double master’s degree program, the first of its kind in Washington.

Designed to graduate globally educated professionals for leadership in technology-rich multinational corporations, the cohort-based program began this fall and allows paired Swiss and U.S. students to receive two master’s degrees – one from WSU and the other from Zurich. Talitha Johnson is the first WSU student to participate.

Students will spend the first year in Switzerland and the second in the U.S. studying mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or computer science. The program includes high-demand study tracks in business engineering, energy and environment, industrial technologies and information and communication technologies.

Students will also participate in a summer “management and leadership” module in Switzerland, in which they are organized in teams and develop a comprehensive business plan for an engineered product under the mentorship of coaches from Zurich and industry partners.

Reputation as global partner

“The WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture is pursuing international programs for the benefit of our students, faculty, researchers and the community,” said Iannelli. “These efforts are an investment that pays dividends and elevates the reputation of WSU on the world stage as an excellent international partner to address societal problems on a global scale.”

Significant support for these initiatives comes from WSU International Programs and WSU Tri-Cities, said Iannelli. Contact him at 509-372 7420 or joseph.iannelli@wsu.edu.