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International Technical University: Hands-On Education in Silicon Valley

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

What does the son of a respected Chinese warlord have to do with technology in the heart of Silicon Valley? One of eighteen children, Shu-Park Chan came to the United States to study engineering when he was 19 years old. After getting his Ph.D at the University of Illinois and joining the faculty at Santa Clara University, he went to Shenzhen, China in the hope of founding a university there - a project that had to be abandoned in the face of governmental changes.

Returning to the states, he instead founded International Technical University (ITU) in San Jose in 1994 and served as its president for sixteen years. Today, ITU looks provide a global development platform to "transform industry-linked technological education through innovative educational models and industry partnerships, worldwide."

This is no easy feat. A not-for-profit accredited university accepting students to its graduate degree programs, the university endeavors to incorporate professional ethics, intellectual property law, environmental protection and other modern issues into each field of study. Masters programs are available in business administration with concentration options. Business administration, electrical engineering, and interdisciplinary science are offered as doctoral degrees.

Differing from more traditional university models, ITU has a flexible course schedule, offering things like weekend classes and industry-linked curricula. Each class provides students the chance to implement textbook knowledge on in-depth projects students can use in their career portfolios. Internships are also available.

Professors often have years of experience in their industry. Communications Coordinator James Dohnert describes, "We have professors with years of experience at companies like Google, ILM, and SpaceX. Students often tell us that their professor's industry experience provides great insight into the current trends in the field."

Darshini Patel is a recent software engineering program graduate now working at Facebook. "They don't just focus on theory; they give a lot of examples and practical applications," says Patel. "Last trimester I took Java, this trimester I'm taking Android, and in my work, I'm implementing both of them."

To leverage the superior talent in Silicon Valley, ITU brings in speakers on topics that tie-in with current classroom studies. Dohnert notes, "The University does a really unique speaker series called ITU Presents. The series brings members of the local community to campus to talk about projects they're working on. Over the past year, we've had great speakers like ILM Creative Director David Nakabayashi; Silicon Valley Organizer Katie Aragon; and Tom Flynn, a designer for the Samsung Virtual Reality (VR) Headset." Also open to the public, these talks are a good way for potential students to get a feel for the university.

Recently, to sweeten the learning experience and expand ITU's community ties, the university began offering all full-time San Jose Chamber of Commerce member company employees a 25 percent reduction in tuition, saving these students thousands of dollars in furthering their education and leading to better management strategies within their respective companies.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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