CWRU tempts TMU students with high-tech options for creativity:

Ohio university includes largest US ‘maker space’ for 24/7 innovation

Vice Provost David Fleshler’s background in legal studies showed in the strong and persuasive case he made for TMU students to partake of opportunities at Case Western Reserve University. Whether joint degree programs or research and medical school partnerships, the architect of CWRU’s ambitious Center for International Affairs persuaded the overflow International Partnership Week crowd that Cleveland, Ohio, has much more to boast about than basketball star LeBron James.

Mr. Fleshler’s presentation spelled out many advantages of joining this top US research university in a city he said is unfairly overlooked. Although TMU students were more familiar with the Cavaliers’ star player, he noted that the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra’s concert hall adjoins the campus, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in downtown Cleveland and overlooks Lake Erie, a 15 minute bus ride from CWRU.

More to the point, Ohio has a great job market for students who decide to try their career skills in an American context; major corporations like Proctor & Gamble and Progressive Insurance have headquarters there. Among America’s oldest and most distinguished schools, CWRU trains health professionals in four affiliated hospitals, representing different aspects of the US health care system: the Metro Health system serving city residents, the federal Louis Stokes VA Hospital, Cleveland University Hospitals that ranks in America’s top twenty, and the renowned Cleveland Clinic, which is ranked #2 nationwide.

Like TMU, CWRU stands out from most universities by promising all students a chance to learn laboratory skills and participate in active research projects with real-world goals. In fact, graduate students outnumber undergrads by nearly a thousand students, thanks to an almost two billion-dollar endowment and generous operational funding. The faculty-student ratio overall is 11 to 1, but this ratio is sometimes lower in graduate level programs. 

Making up 20% of CWRU’s student body, foreign students are highly valued, with 65 percent coming from China and some 37 students from Taiwan. Supported by a strategic plan that received input from faculty members, administrators, alumni and community members, 30% of CWRU students have significant study abroad experience by the time they graduate. The university also attracts inbound international students, including those from TMU, with a variety of programs and facilities.

One example of CWRU’s unique facilities is the tinkerers’ playground called think[box], a 7-story “maker space”, which is open around the clock to the university community. think[box] offers the largest facility of any US university with an open-access array of sophisticated equipment. If a student has a good idea at 3am, there’s no need to wait until business hours or make a reservation to test it out.

Students enjoy equal priority with faculty members and research teams if they want to learn to use the 3D printers, powerful materials cutters and welding equipment. There’s also art and design support for packaging and logos, as well as help and advice regarding business planning and legal issues, including patent protection.

CWRU is well known for its investment in entrepreneurship training for faculty members and students. One heartwarming outcome of student inspiration is “internet teddy bears” that allow users to give a hug to a stuffed animal in one location that will be replicated by the bear on the other end – an ingenious way to say “I love you” to distant family and friends.

Reminiscent of aspects of think[box], TMU in April opened the doors of its College of Interdisciplinary Studies. The new unit is dedicated to nurturing students’ thinking beyond their individual subjects of study by offering entrepreneurship education as well as a well-appointed basement “maker space” to encourage innovation.

Another CWRU milestone is a state-of-the-are health education campus (HEC) that will open next year. The vice provost said this new facility, which is being built in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic, will also have a multidisciplinary focus to “bring together different fields” so that that the education and training of medical, dental, and nursing students will occur side-by-side, which will better prepare them to deal with life-and-death patient care decisions as they “study in newly-combined classes and join in the HEC atrium to work on project-based learning together.”

CWRU’s medical school ranks in America’s top 25, and also ranks as #39 in primary care. With 59 different clinical departments and 14 graduate programs, CWRU offers training in the skills increasingly in demand by both US and international employers. As proof, Mr. Fleshler noted that 71% of graduating doctoral students in the School of Medicine receive faculty or postdoctoral positions. 75% of PhD graduates in the School of Medicine are now at top-25 research institutions in the United States.

Collaborating with some of CWRU’s prestigious programs, TMU’s joint degree arrangements offer students further advantages. “3+2” programs allows students to earn dual diplomas (an Undergraduate degree from TMU and a Master’s degree from CWRU) in nutrition (CWRU’s program ranks sixth nationwide) and in biomedical engineering (CWRU ranks fifteenth). The vice provost’s presentation surely convinced more TMU students to give the Ohio experience a try.

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