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WSU Corporate Relations Partner Stories


Washington State University announced the launch of a collaborative program with Amazon titled Amazon Catalyst on October 23, 2017.

Amazon will provide up to $300,000 to WSU to launch the initiative, providing funding and mentorship to support bold, globally impactful and disruptive projects proposed by members of the university community. The Amazon Catalyst program will support the expansion of the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the WSU system.

In the Spring of 2018, the Amazon Catalyst program awarded $177,735 in grants to 10 Washington State University teams comprised of students, faculty and staff across disciplines and locations.

The collaborative program between Amazon and WSU launched early in 2018 to fund projects deemed globally impactful and disruptive. Funded projects range from low-cost and environmentally-friendly material for road maintenance; to technology to help protect bees from pesticide exposure, preventing bee death and colony collapse; to soil microbes used as bio-pesticides to protect crops from devastating pests; to a new building material made from gypsum wallboard scrap, and many more innovative ideas.

The 2018 grant recipients and their winning projects are:

    • Recycled restaurant cooking oil waste and reclaimed asphalt are combined into a low-cost, recycled road paving material.
    • Kun Zhang, clinical assistant professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

    • An environmentally safer way to protect crop yield and quantity using bio-pesticides to fight underground crop pests.
    • Lei Zhang, research associate, Department of Plant Pathology.

    • A combination of microparticles mixed with bee feed that protects bees from the harmful effects of encountering pesticides during pollination.
    • Waled Suliman, postdoctoral student, School of Biological Systems Engineering.

    • An electrochemical scaffold wound dressing that treats infections and stimulates healing by continuously generating antimicrobial agents in wounds.
    • Abdelrhman Mohamed, Ph.D. graduate student, Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

    • Retrofitting of an existing battery-electric Zenn car to enable recharging with a modular, on-board, hydrogen fuel-cell system.
    • Jacob Leachman, associate professor, School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

    • The Cardiopulmonary Events from Smoke Estimator (CENSE) will evaluate smoke particulate pollution information and convert it into air quality forecasts for medical condition specific warnings, and deliver these warning to caregivers and patients in high-risk populations.
    • Joseph Vaughan, associate research professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

    • The Drywall Waste Block converts low-value gypsum wallboard scrap waste into a high performance building material that is inexpensive to produce, easy to build with and provides energy-efficient and affordable homes for people in need.
    • Taiji Miyasaka, professor of architecture, School of Design and Construction.

    • Creating and deploying smart-thermometers among the pastoral Maasai in Tanzania to increase milk pasteurization knowledge and habits through the use of culturally-targeted solution that limits the transmission of antimicrobial resistance among the tribes, making milk safer and people healthier.
    • Mark Caudell, postdoctoral research associate, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.

    • An accurate and efficient way to retrieve information and dispatch it effectively in an emergency situation.
    • Shusanta Bhattarai, undergraduate computer science student, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.
  • EPI-N

    • An app for epinepherine users that helps people with severe allergies and reactions to track their EpiPens, manage their medication supply and notify caretakers of a reaction emergency.
    • David Kurz, undergraduate entrepreneurship student, Carson College of Business.

Learn more about grant recipients and keep up on project updates at


Washington State University and hometown airline, Alaska Airlines, partnered in 2015 to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for high school youth through the Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow Competition.

Created by WSU in 2008 and now housed in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Imagine Tomorrow challenges 9th-12th grade students to develop enterprising solutions for renewable energy. Student teams from across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana select one of three topics and research that create and provide solutions:

  • The Itron Food, Energy and Water Challenge
  • The Boeing Aerospace and Transportation Challenge
  • The McKinstry Built Environment Challenge

Building on Alaska Airlines’ three-year title sponsorship of the WSU Imagine Tomorrow competition, the company has committed three million airline miles (one million annually) to WSU faculty, Extension employees, graduate and undergraduate students with travel funding needs. To qualify for the miles, applicants must be traveling to, or bringing someone to campus, for a reason related to the categories highlighted in the Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow Competition. For more information about the 2018 Alaska Airlines Award Application click here.


In conjunction with the Imagine Tomorrow Competition sponsorship, Alaska Airlines and WSU will collaborate on an Alaska Airlines Day on the WSU Pullman campus. This will be an exclusive recruitment day for Alaska Airlines as well as an opportunity for executive leadership to discuss mutual challenges and opportunities. This event will take place in the 2018 Spring Semester.

Further partnerships include in 2016 when Alaska Airlines made history flying the first commercial flight using the world’s first renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. The alternative jet fuel was produced through the efforts of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA).


Washington State University and The Boeing Company have enjoyed a decades-long partnership that has delivered far-reaching benefits—not only to the two organizations—but also to the greater Pacific Northwest.

Boeing has invested in numerous WSU endowed professorships, fellowships, scholarships, learning centers, and programs. In turn, Boeing, and the state of Washington, have benefitted from thousands of highly skilled and well-prepared WSU graduates who have become Boeing employees and a key part of the company’s success.

Boeing’s investment in WSU has included efforts such as Boeing e-Connections, a scholarship program that provides WSU freshmen and sophomores with an introduction to entrepreneurship programming and a community of support. Additionally, the Boeing Scholars Program provides students with two-year scholarships as well as internship opportunities between their junior and senior years. During their senior year, students from engineering, science, and business participate in an interdisciplinary course, collaborating with Boeing scientists and engineers on a real-life aerospace industry project. The program brings disparate groups together, simulating the engineering work environment.

Further support of students occurs throught the Boeing Mentorship program which pairs a Boeing mentor with students from WSU engineering programs in Everett, Bremerton, and Vancouver. The students gain insights into the aerospace industry, learn about opportunities at Boeing, and receive general career guidance. In the five years since the program was founded, nearly 100 students have participated in the program.

Gathered in front of the Boeing Innovation Studio sign are, (left to right) Bill McSherry, Commercial Airplanes vice president of Government Operations; Kirk Schulz, president of Washington State University; City of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson; and Craig Bomben, vice president of Flight Operations, Beoing Test & Evaluation — and a Washington State University alumnus. (Deborah Feldman photo)

Gathered in front of the Boeing Innovation Studio sign are, (left to right) Bill McSherry, Commercial Airplanes vice president of Government Operations; Kirk Schulz, president of Washington State University; City of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson; and Craig Bomben, vice president of Flight Operations, Beoing Test & Evaluation — and a Washington State University alumnus. (Deborah Feldman photo)

In recognition of a generous gift of $250,000 and the Boeing Company’s long-standing support for the University, a Fabrication Lab on the first floor of the new WSU Everett campus will be named The Boeing Innovation Studio.

Boeing has also been a strong supporter of WSU faculty led research. Recently, Boeing  invested in WSU and the Washington Stormwater Center located in Puyallup to develop stronger permeable pavement. Permeable pavement, made of recycled carbon fiber composite material being used by Boeing, could be one of the more important tools in addressing the number one source of pollution in Puget Sound, untreated stormwater.

Deukhyoun Heo, associate professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is developing technology that can improve the quality and speed of aviation communications while also saving energy. Heo is working on ‘beamforming’ chips with Boeing and WSU’s Center for the Design of Analog-Digital Integrated Circuits (CDADIC). His aim is to reduce the size and volume of the receivers that generate communication signals on planes while increasing transmitted data and transmission speed.

Additionally, a group of researchers is collaborating with Boeing to provide more efficient electric power on next-generation commercial airplanes. Led by Chen-Ching Liu, Boeing Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering in the WSU Energy Systems Innovation (ESI) Center, the multidisciplinary team is working with Boeing to develop a battery extender auxiliary power unit (APU). Replacing gas turbine with fuel-cell powered APUs on future airplanes would mean a significant improvement in efficiency when the airplane is on the ground and would reduce the load on the main engines during flight. APUs provide electrical power for lights, navigation systems, and other systems. The projects led by Heo and Liu were coordinated through the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI), a government program that helps initiate mutually beneficial relationships between education and the aerospace industry. The end goal is to advance economic development in the state.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

Washington State University’s power engineering program will establish the Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, thanks to gifts totaling $1.5 million from Edmund and Beatriz Schweitzer, and the employee owners of Pullman-based Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

The new endowed chair will support WSU’s teaching and research in the fundamentals of power engineering, including electromagnetics, controls, communication theory, high voltage materials and practice, work that is near and dear to the Schweitzers and the employees of SEL.

Thanks in part to the support and advocacy of the Schweitzers and SEL, Voiland College’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has experienced dramatic growth. Annual research expenditures in the school have more than doubled in the past six years, to $7.6 million annually, with about $4 million of that increase in power engineering research. Enrollment in the school has also doubled to more than 1,000 undergraduates and nearly 200 graduates each year.

During the past two years, SEL has hired more than 10 percent of the school’s graduates, more than any other employer. To date, the Schweitzers and SEL have collectively contributed more than $3.6 million to support students, teaching and research across the university.