West Virginia University has entered into an agreement on Wednesday, June 10, with the Aeronautic University of Queretaro, Mexico, creating a formal presence for WVU in one of the fastest growing aerospace industrial cities in North America.

Under the new agreement, eligible Mexican students will get two master’s degrees: one from WVU with an emphasis on aerospace system performance and another one from UNAQ with an emphasis on manufacturing.

According to Victor Mucino, professor and associate chair for education in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at WVU, this represents a growing market in quality graduate education delivery.

“The aerospace industry in Mexico is interested in holders of master’s degrees with a wide range of expertise in the areas of performance and manufacturing,” Mucino said, “and very few institutions in Mexico can produce them. Companies like GE, Bombardier and Rolls-Royce have major plants and facilities in Queretaro and the demand for top quality graduates is very high.”

While other universities are attempting to establish such agreements, WVU has an advantage. Since 1997, Mucino has directed WVU’s Industrial Outreach Program in Mexico, which pairs WVU students with students in Queretaro over the summer to solve meaningful engineering projects in industry. During the academic year, students from Queretaro come to Morgantown to study and learn about the professional environment in the U.S. The success of this program helped solidify this new agreement between the two institutions.

In the first year, students from Mexico will take at least three courses from UNAQ plus two courses from WVU via distance learning. The courses will be developed through WVU’s Office of Academic Innovation, Online and Extended Campus. Mucino hopes that this will eventually allow WVU to offer its programs to an extended audience of industry practitioners looking to advance their skill set.

Students will spend the second year on campus at WVU, where they will need to complete three courses in order to earn their degree. They will also be required to conduct research, leading to a master’s thesis to be defended at the end of the second year.

“Students will most likely be involved in research projects dealing with technology development; i.e., developing testing protocols for performance testing of aerospace systems,” Mucino said. “Queretaro has all the infrastructure necessary to do that and researchers will be needed to develop and implement testing protocols to comply with international aviation standards.

“In the manufacturing of aerospace systems, there is a need to design, fabricate, install and test many automated mechanical systems used in the manufacturing processes,” he added. “This opens opportunities for applied research in mechatronics, intelligent machines and embedded systems, all areas in which WVU has expertise.”

All cost associated with the program will be covered by the government of Mexico and the state of Queretaro. Additional support for faculty participation in applied research is expect to come through competitive proposals to Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology and industry.

Mucino can see a time when students from WVU may want to participate in this exchange program as well. He also sees the program as a way to attract top quality doctoral candidates to WVU.

“MAE is always interested in top quality candidates for its Ph.D. program and I believe we will be able to recruit a few top quality students to further their studies at WVU,” Mucino said.

“The College is pleased to continue its support of Dr. Mucino’s work over many years in establishing this very exciting opportunity,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “It certainly can help support meaningful exchange programs, workforce development and the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges initiative.”

At the request of the National Science Foundation, NAE convened a committee of leading technical thinkers to create a list of the grand challenges and opportunities for engineering. The committee’s final conclusions, known as the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century, builds upon essential engineering fundamentals to develop students’ broader understanding of behavior, policy, entrepreneurship and global perspective; one that kindles the passion necessary to take on challenges at humanity’s grandest scale.

Representatives in attendance for the signing from WVU included David Stewart, associate vice president for international and global outreach Michael Wilhelm, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars and Mucino. UNAQ was represented by its president, Jorge Gutierrez de Velasco; Provost Mario Guerrero; and Norma Munoz, director of graduate programs. Fernando de la Isla Herrera, Secretary of Education; Angel Ramirez Vazquez, director of the Council for Science and Technology of the State of Queretaro; Araceli Partearroyo, director of academic affairs, U.S. Embassy in Mexico; and Rebecca Thompson, cultural attache, U.S. Embassy in Mexico were also in attendance. The agreement was also signed by WVU President Gordon Gee Cilento; and Jacky Prucz, chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who were unable to attend.


CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4086, Mary.Dillon@mail.wvu.edu
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.