Students may soon have a new engineering degree program, thanks to a collaborative between Western Technical College and Viterbo University.
While the details are still being worked out, the schools signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday to explore a possible 'two plus two' general engineering degree.
Through an educational collaborative already in place, the leaders of Western Technical College and Viterbo University know each other well.
"We have many successful projects through our business program with Western,” said Viterbo University president Glena Temple. “We have many students from their R.N. program complete their nursing four-year program."
Thursday marks their newest collaborative: creating a new engineering program.
"We had meetings with well over 30 companies and businesses, and the one theme that came out over and over again is that there is a real need for engineering instruction in this area,” said Western’s president Lee Rasch. “There aren't really good alternatives."
Details are still being finalized, but a potential program would allow students to spend two years at Western, then finish a four-year program at Viterbo.
"So we would be taking part of the curriculum at Western leading to an associate’s degree, and then transferring officially, but we hope it would be more seamless than that, to Viterbo to finish a four-year baccalaureate degree in engineering,” Temple said.
The program hopes to take advantage of the new Integrated Technology Center at Western.
"Much of the coursework will still occur here, because we have some state-of-the-art labs here, so you'll get the two-plus-two configuration, but you're really going to be able to stay in La Crosse for that," Rasch said.
Western officials said the general engineering degree would give businesses more options.
"It would be better to have these broad-based generals coming out, and then they can do the training and advanced instruction when they hire them, and that will meet the need now,” Rasch said.
Western said these projects wouldn't be possible without the help of other schools.
"It's happening. It's been happening. It's happened over and over again, and now we have one more exciting one on the horizon,” Rasch said.
Western said the program could be up and running as early as fall of 2018.
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