I love you. It’s true.
You, the University of Applied Sciences of Italian Switzerland, have stolen my heart.
And it all started with this hands-on computer programming board.
This thing – the computer programming folks wrote the program, the engineers designed and built it, and it could potentially be given to the elementary education students to use with the little children.
Instead of staring at a screen, mashing mouse buttons and being still, little ones can play with a circuit board that forces the children to place shapes on the board correctly to create a path that when finished leads to a fun outcome.
Also, this solar panel project.
Most of the panels look like what we expect, but (and it’s hard to see) if you look to the very left there are some beautifully designed panels. Combining solar panel engineering with architectural and art design to create an aesthetically pleasing panel typical homeowners will want to buy? What a novel concept!
True interdisciplinarity at its finest.
So often in the US, and in some of the universities we’ve visited on our trip, interdisciplinary teaching and learning means sharing a classroom space with folks from other departments learning about a similar subject for a few weeks. Ideally, folks learn from each other in ways not possible when they’re only with other students in their discipline. More often, it feels to me like the different disciplines just talk past each other.
Another thing I love about you SUPSI? Your focus on application of the skills the students learn right from the beginning of their BA degrees. Many of your instructors are still working in their own fields and then spend part of their time teaching their trade to the students at SUPSI.
Best of all?? Your instructors must have pedagogy training!!! And it has to be done within the first three years of being hired. So not only do your instructors have real-world experience, but they also learn best teaching practices and about the theory of teaching to better serve your students!!!
The BA is three years, and in each of the 6 semesters your students are working on real-world projects with folks from different fields (majors) working on the same project. There are no academic silos here; rather, students work together to create solutions not possible without input from other areas.
Last thing and then I’m done – I love the different BA degrees which You consider “applied” – including non-traditional ones like visual communication, social work, music and theater, and primary and high school teaching, along with degrees in things like civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, computer science thatmost people associate with “applied science.”
Including those first degrees in an “applied science” university elevates their status in ways I don’t think we do in the US. No more parents asking their children “what are you going to do with a degree in theater or music or art?” Instead, because you have an eye always on the practical application of skills outside the university, and your students work with teachers who have spent time in the profession, students are prepared to leave the university with a job in hand.
And for most students, that’s the case. Over 95 percent of your students are employed in their field within a year of graduation.
So yes, dear SUPSI, I love you. I graduate in 2018. Please love me back.
And hire me.