Presidents from Grand Valley State University and Cornerstone University signed a partnership agreement October 19 that will allow students to concurrently enroll at both universities.

Under the agreement, Grand Valley will expand its engineering program and create four new emphasis areas in its interdisciplinary engineering major. Cornerstone intends to offer engineering degrees for the first time.

Courses for the four emphasis areas (environmental engineering, design and innovation engineering, engineering management, and data science and engineering) of the interdisciplinary engineering major will be taught at both Cornerstone and Grand Valley.

Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas and Cornerstone President Joseph Stowell signed the agreement in the Kirkhof Center on Grand Valley's Allendale Campus.

Haas said the agreement addresses the need for more engineers in Michigan.

"This unique partnership between public and private universities will provide the opportunity for students to develop particular engineering skill sets that are needed in West Michigan and the region," Haas said. "Grand Valley is pleased to work with Cornerstone to ensure the success of our students — our future engineers."

Stowell said this collaboration is a perfect example of the types of higher education partnerships that will become increasingly important in the future.

"By sharing support and resources, students at both universities will have a track to move forward on. We will enjoy having Grand Valley students on our campus, which will enrich our community," said Stowell.

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the GVSU Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, said: "There is a shortage of engineering graduates in the state and West Michigan in particular. We are very pleased to work closely with Cornerstone on this agreement to provide resources and support for future engineers at both universities."

The agreement will take effect January 1, 2017.