WSU considering satellite engineering campus in Mexico



This photo shows the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, which is the capital of the state of Chihuahua. WSU Provost Rick Muma says the university is considering developing a satellite engineering campus in the city.

Wichita State University is considering developing a satellite engineering campus in Mexico, Provost Rick Muma confirmed on Friday to The Sunflower.

If the campus comes to fruition, Muma said it would largely be funded by American Industries — a manufacturing and real estate company based in Chihuahua City, Mexico, that works with industry leaders like Boeing and Textron Aviation.

“In their workforce in Chihuahua, they have several engineers down there and several universities that provide engineering, but they need more expertise,” Muma said. “And they know that we can provide that.”

That expertise includes degree programs in materials engineering, advanced manufacturing, and composites — the main fields of study Muma said are in consideration for the campus at this time. 

Muma said he began talking this semester with Luis Lara, CEO of American Industries, about starting an engineering campus in Chihuahua. On Monday, Muma and a handful of other WSU officials visited the city to meet with Lara and see local industry. 

“[Lara is] very familiar with Wichita; he’s been coming up here for years, doing business with local aircraft companies,” Muma said. “He’s learned a lot about Wichita State over the years, and he’s very interested in how we provide our education to students, and how we’re doing that to help meet industry and community needs in growing the economy.” 

“They want to replicate that in Chihuahua.” 

Muma said the university does not have a cost estimate for the potential campus at this time. 

“It would need to make sense financially. We don’t have any resources to bring to the table, and I’ve told them that, so any resources to get it up and running — they would need to provide,” he said.

Muma said other fields of study, such as biology or fine arts, could be considered for the satellite campus — based on how much funding the university gets.

“I think there would be opportunities for internships in multiple disciplines … in some of these other fields, where they’re not going there for a full degree program but some sort of immersive experience,” he said. 

Establishing a campus in Chihuahua could also create more study abroad opportunities for students at WSU and in Mexico, Muma said. WSU already has a longstanding exchange program with a school in Puebla, Mexico. 

Muma said he does not know when the university will decide whether to pursue the campus or not, but he plans to touch base with officials at American Industries by the end of 2019 to identify “potential next steps.”

He said another team from WSU plans to visit Chihuahua in January. 

“The hope is, after that, then their folks from Chihuahua [will] come up here to have a broader conversation with the individuals who have already gone and additional individuals who would like to have that conversation here on campus.” 

Student Body President Kitrina Miller first announced the potential campus on Wednesday at the Student Government Association meeting.

Miller said she asked Muma to speak about the potential campus at SGA’s first meeting of next semester.