Viking Launch Online

2020 Registration is now closed

Student working outside on a laptop enjoying the fall weather

Viking Launch is designed to provide incoming freshmen a strong, focused start-up to college life at Western. Research demonstrates that freshmen are most apt to succeed when they are socially and academically integrated within a campus community, when they are prepared and ready for their courses, and when they attend classes with an eye to their future goals and plans.

Due to COVID-19, Viking Launch has been switched to a remote/virtual format, which includes:

  • Complete a 2-credit First Year Experience course
  • Learn about various valuable university services available to you

Program Details

This program is open to all incoming freshmen, but does not replace the need for incoming freshmen to attend one of the Fall Advising & Orientation sessions (August sessions or September).



September 14-18, 2020


This program has been switched to a remote/virtual program due to COVID-19.


The adjusted cost for the virtual program is $50 and there may be a limited number of spots available. 

2020 Viking Launch Virtual Courses

Is it true that we use only about 10% of our brain? Of course not! Weighing approximately 3 pounds, the human brain may be our last and most complicated biological frontier. So effective and efficient are the brain’s 100 billion neurons that, as long as things are working properly, we rarely stop to think about how this complex mass of tissue gives rise to our every thought, action and perception. However, when brain function is impaired people’s lives can be dramatically altered. This course will introduce you to behavioral neuroscience in Western’s state-of-the-art neuroscience research facility, where you will learn about the role that the nervous system plays in normal and abnormal behavior, thought and emotion. Lab activities include a sheep’s brain dissection, to help you learn about brain-and-behavior relationships hands-on!

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $10

Faculty: Dr. Janet Finlay/Dr. Michael Mana

Explore the “ekphrastic” relationship between creative writing and other forms of art (music, sculpture, painting, glass, etc.) in this intensive, 5-day format. This course introduces you to elements of craft necessary for creative writing; to the process of imagining, generating, revising, and editing texts; to the electronic broadside form.  Course activities include discussion, response, pre-writing, drafting, workshop, revising, designing, publishing, and virtual & self-directed field trips through WWU’s outdoor sculpture collection and other sites.  Students need to available with reliable connectivity for synchronous activities each day with peers and faculty.  A detailed schedule and information about required online meetings and materials will be available by September 7, 2020.

Faculty: Nancy Pagh

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

This is a course for pre-engineering students who have placed into MATH 124 or higher. This course will review pre-calculus mathematics concepts and their application to solving engineering problems. In addition, a portion of the course will be on spatial visualization skills, and these skills will be practiced through hands-on activities. The focus of the course is to prepare pre-engineering students for the start of their engineering studies.

Students must obtain instructor approval to register for this course, and must have earned placement into MATH 124 or higher, for example by scoring an 80 or higher on the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment, or earning a 2 or higher on the AP Calculus exam.  Please contact Lisa Ochs in the Engineering & Design Department to request permission to enroll in this engineering preparation course.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Greg Schwartz, Andy Klein, and Sura Al-Qudah

Explore and engage with some of our region's most exciting community gardening and farming projects. Get your hands dirty alongside community leaders who are using healthy, local food to address pressing social issues like unemployment, depression, and climate change adaptation. We will learn about projects on campus, around town, and in the surrounding countryside. Ready to work outside, get inspired, explore, and play? 

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Travis Tennessen Center for Service-Learning

In this course we will explore local environmental issues through research and field observations, with a special focus on the Nooksack River watershed, and examine the impacts of our energy, waste, transportation, and water-use choices. We will discover how WWU, governments, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals are working together to help solve the problems associated with environmental change, and opportunities for taking action in your new community.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Kayanne Sullivan

Interested in learning about the history of Bellingham’s local volcano? In this class you'll learn about the origin, geology, and hazards associated with this active volcano, and discover how geologists study volcanoes. The class will some engaging lab and classroom activities.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Dr. Bernard Housen

Everyone’s a photographer, right? We can all take photos on our phones and post them to Instagram or Tumblr. Now, delve further into photo practice, history, creative meaning, and ethics through presentations, photo assignments, visits from photographers, field trips, and in-class production in a design lab. To prepare you to do profile, stop motion, and self-expression projects, we will cover SLR cameras and do a tutorial on Photoshop. A field trip to a local magazine publisher (possibly remote) will discuss editorial decision-making in publishing outdoor photos as narratives, as well as the career of freelancing; a second field trip to a local newspaper (again, possibly remote) will cover how to make ethical editorial choices in local coverage. This course helps you build media literacy, as we will discuss design standards and visual creativity. The material covered is useful to prospective Journalism majors as well as any student who wants to learn how to produce photos with an understanding of the technical and creative aspects of photography, as well as the history and ethics of photo practice.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Sheila Webb

Are you considering business as your academic and professional pursuit but unsure as to which area to study or where to begin? This course is designed to introduce students to the College of Business and Economics (CBE) help students explore and understand the distinct areas of study and professional practice that business has to offer. The course will include a survey of the primary disciplines in business as offered at WWU in the CBE. You will become acquainted with Accounting, Decision Sciences, Finance and Marketing, Economics and Management. Students will learn from experienced faculty, meet department teams and have the chance to visit local businesses. This course is a great way to understand the opportunities offered at the CBE and get a head start on planning your degree in business at Western.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Lucas Senger


The quest to develop scalable, affordable sources of renewable energy represents one of the greatest challenges facing the next generation. This class explores the science behind renewable energy and the prospects and problems that need to be overcome. This year, the course explores topics including biofuels, wind and wave power, nuclear power and solar cells through synchronous remote/online class discussion, problem-solving activities, and real-time chats with energy professionals. A virtual laboratory component examines fabrication, testing, and computer modeling of solar cell devices as well as the synthesis of biodiesel. Students will also learn about instrumentation and facilities available to student researchers in the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC).

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Dr. Tim Kowalczyk

¡Bienvenidos a Western! If you’re thinking about studying Spanish at Western, join us this summer for a hands-on exploration of the campus community and the Bellingham area. Our focus will be on developing vocabulary and improving your conversational Spanish skills by actively engaging with all of the opportunities that Western has to offer, whether that’s figuring out how to navigate campus resources, spending time outdoors, or learning about Spanish-speaking communities in Whatcom County. You’ll practice Spanish while learning about Western and Bellingham and, depending upon your prior experience with the language, be ready to start with either Spanish 104 or 201 in the fall quarter.

Note: We recommend that students have 2 or more years of high school Spanish—or 1 year and travel experience and/or native fluency—in order to register for this course.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Kirsten Drickey

Viking Launch Housing

Due to the switch to a remote/virtual program, on-campus housing will not be provided for Viking Launch this year. 

If you would like to change your Housing status for fall quarter, you must indicate one of the following two options in the

Fall Status Change Survey:

  • You want to cancel fall but may want Housing winter/spring quarter
  • You want to cancel Housing for the 2020-21 academic year

Incoming residents must change their Housing status prior to Sept. 4 to avoid losing $200 Housing Deposit.

Please review the University Residences frequently asked questions to see how the evolving nature of COVID-19 impacts on-campus housing.


If you already registered for Viking Launch but no longer want to participate in the program now that it is remote/virtual, please email, say that you want to cancel your Viking Launch registration, and include your full name and WWU ID number. You will then receive a full refund and we will withdraw you from the course. You must request this in writing in order for us to process your refund.