Computing school celebrates first summer exchange

Grand Valley students hike in the Alps while on a summer exchange trip in Switzerland.
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Grand Valley students hike in the Alps while on a summer exchange trip in Switzerland.
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A group of computing students from Grand Valley and a university in Switzerland studied at each other’s campuses this summer during a four-week exchange program.

From June 30-July 14, several students from Grand Valley’s School of Computing and Information Systems (CIS) studied at Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (ZHAW), or Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and 10 students from ZHAW studied at Grand Valley.

“The students went through a course on each campus that normally takes 15 weeks, so it was quite intensive,” said Paul Leidig, director of CIS. This is the first international summer exchange for the school that is part of the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing.

Leidig said each university specializes in a trending area of computing, which is how the partnership began. “Our students studied cloud computing at ZHAW and the group from Switzerland studied one of our specialties, mobile application development,” he said. “It is a great fit for both of us.”

In Switzerland, Grand Valley students found time to sightsee and enjoy the country’s culture. They hiked through the Alps and visited former military bunkers that now serve as secure cloud-based data centers. “At ZHAW, our students even got to study in the same engineering building Einstein first taught in,” Leidig said.

While in Michigan, ZHAW students traveled along the coast of Lake Michigan, and visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island and Chicago.

Roland Heusser, from the northern Swiss town Eschlikon, is studying computer science with a focus on application development at Grand Valley through the fall semester. He participated in the summer exchange program and said Grand Valley’s campus is considerably different from ZHAW’s campus.

“My first impression was that everything is located in one place, the stadium, the rec center, the library,” he said. “In Winterthur — the ZHAW campus where I study — our campus is spread across the city.”

Leidig said he hopes the exchange program will take place annually for computing majors. “It’s a great opportunity for our students to study in a global environment and learn about the latest, global computing topics,” he said.

Grand Valley’s School of Engineering is also a partner with ZHAW and encompasses faculty and staff exchanges. Two professors from ZHAW have completed sabbaticals at Grand Valley and biomedical engineering professor Samhita Rhodes will spend a sabbatical semester at the university.