WSU, Swiss university to offer new master’s degree program

The WSU Tri-Cities campus in Richland.
The WSU Tri-Cities campus in Richland. Tri-City Herald

More than a year ahead of schedule, Washington State University has launched a double master’s degree program with a university in Switzerland with which it established an exchange program earlier this year.

The new degree, which will focus on leadership skills needed for working in large, technology-driven companies, will have students spend time at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, or ZHAW, and at WSU’s Pullman or Tri-Cities campuses, a release said.

It is expected to start with as many as six students — three American, three Swiss — in fall 2016.

Significant interest in that program, support from the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland and efforts by Swiss companies to tap into the U.S. market meant moving quickly to take advantage of those opportunities.

“I believe in striking when the iron is hot,” Joseph Iannelli, WSU Tri-Cities’ executive director of engineering and computer science, told the Herald.

The two universities agreed to work together about a year ago. The exchange program, announced in June, will have students from each university traveling abroad for a semester of coursework at the other institution.

The double master’s degree will require stints of up to a year at each university for groups composed of Swiss and WSU students. Graduate students interested in the program will have to meet enrollment requirements of both institutions to qualify, and both only accept about one-third of applicants.

Those who complete the program will receive two degrees — a master’s of science in engineering from ZHAW and either a master’s of electrical or mechanical engineering or computer science from WSU.

Each degree will have a particular concentration depending on a student’s course selection, such as business engineering, energy and environment, industrial technologies or information and communication technologies

Providing skills needed for the development and promotion of engineered products on an international scale are the primary goal. One specific component of the program will have students develop a business plan for an engineered product while being mentored in Switzerland.