11a Alps hike starting point

For a third consecutive summer, a group of computing students from Grand Valley State University and a university in Switzerland are studying at each other’s campuses this summer during a four-week exchange program.

From June 25-July 12, several students from Grand Valley’s School of Computing and Information Systems (CIS) are studying at Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (ZHAW), or Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Following a two-week course on cloud computing in Switzerland, a group of students from ZHAW will return to study mobile applications development at Grand Valley.

6 GVSU and ZHAW students at Technikum

“While on each campus, students complete a full course that normally takes 15 weeks, so it is quite intensive,” said Paul Leidig, professor and director of CIS. Leidig said each university specializes in a trending area of computing. “Our students get the opportunity to study cloud computing at ZHAW and the group from Switzerland benefits from one of our specialties, mobile application development,” he said. “It is a great fit for both of us. Cloud computing and mobile development technologies are critical skills for our students.”

7b Lab Groups Abdullah

In Switzerland, Grand Valley students have time for cultural excursions. They hike through the Alps and visit former military bunkers that now serve as secure cloud-based data centers. Computer Science major Danny Selgo said “It’s a great opportunity for us to study in a different country and get to experience a completely new culture.” GVSU students get to say they had an opportunity study in the same Technikum building where Albert Einstein began as a university lecturer. The exchange program is scheduled each summer for computing majors.

Trip highlights

The excursion began in Munich Germany, with visits to the BMW plant and museum, the Olympic Village – site of the 1972 hostage crisis, the Dachau concentration camp memorial, and a trip to Castle Neuschwanstein (fairyland castle used as the model for Disney World).

4 Castle Neuschwanstein

In Switzerland, students studied at the Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (ZHAW), or Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Each week is filled with full days of lectures and lab experience. In a short two weeks, students spent more time in lectures and labs then in a typical GVSU semester. In Switzerland, students learned from specialist and researches in emerging areas of cloud computing. Here, the host lecturer, Pietro Brossi, explains a solution to configuring a cloud server.

7d Lab Groups Danny and Pietro

Students had a unique opportunity to visit “the world’s most secure data center” located in the former Swiss Air Force emergency command bunker deep in an Alps mountain. Although pictures inside the data center were not allowed, students came away with a new appreciation for the complexities and challenges of supporting a large-scale data center operation. Bunkers deep in the mountain provide access to cold water for cooling and energy sources. Cultural excursions in Switzerland included visits to former military defense bunker systems in a mountain pass, a Benedictine monastery that was founded in the 7th century, a cable-car ride to a 7,200 ft. starting point for a day of hiking through the scenery of the Alpine mountainside.

8b Deltalis datacenter security

2015 Swiss Summer Exchange Students from GVSU:

  • Abdullah Alsaiari
  • Tony Alberty
  • Chase Pietrangelo
  • Daniel Selgo
  • Hayden Miedema
  • Jason Lehmann

12a Rheinfalls view

12b Rheinfalls platform


13a Stein am Rhein


9 Alps view from bunker