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ASEE PRISM
  American Society for Engineering Education
American Society for Engineering EducationOCTOBER 2007Volume 17 | Number 2 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
FEATURES
COVER STORY: BANGALORE-JOLT - INDIA’S RAPID HIGH-TECH GROWTH HAS FUELED A HUGE DEMAND FOR WELL-TRAINED ENGINEERS. STARTUPS, INDUSTRY, RETURNING EXPATRIATES AND EVEN A SPIRITUAL LEADER—THE ‘HUGGING SAINT’—OFFER INNOVATIVE WAYS TO FILL THE VOID. BUT ARE THEIR EFFORTS ENOUGH? BY LUCILLE CRAFT
FEATURE: 2 FOR 1 - IN PUTTING ITS BUSINESS AND ENGINEERING SCHOOLS UNDER ONE ROOF, PENN STATE BEHREND AIMS TO FOSTER CREATIVE TEAMWORK WHILE MAKING ITS STUDENTS ATTRACTIVE TO INDUSTRY.  BY MARY LORD
FEATURE: EDUCATOR FOR THE REAL WORLD - JIM MELSA WANTED TO CHANGE HOW ENGINEERING IS TAUGHT, EVEN IF IT MADE HIM ‘A PAIN IN THE NECK.’ BY PIERRE HOME-DOUGLAS

DEPARTMENTS
COMMENTS
CONTRIBUTORS
BRIEFINGS
DATABYTES
REFRACTIONS: LAUNCHING A CAREER - BY HENRY PETROSKI
CLASSIFIEDS
LAST WORD: Saving the Marriage - BY PAUL PEERCY

TEACHING TOOLBOX
Walking the Line - Ethics courses give students an understanding of the dilemmas they will face in the workplace—and the confidence to make wise choices. BY ALICE DANIEL
JEE SELECTS: The Case for Inductive Teaching - BY RICHARD FELDER AND MICHAEL PRINCE
ON THE SHELF: Stunning Growth, Stubborn Problems - BY ROBIN TATU


BACK ISSUES







 
LAST WORD: Saving the Marriage - BY PAUL PEERCY  

Universities and industry gain from working together, but it’s not always easy. ASEE deans seek paths to harmony.

Strong collaborations between universities and industry have long played a major role in high-quality engineering education, in research and in preparing students to enter the workforce.

Now, with industry demanding faster research and development while cutting the number of central research labs, and with technology advancing and global competition increasing, such partnerships must be strengthened. They would make universities more attractive to well-qualified faculty and students, help improve educational offerings and enhance the stature and impact of academic research. Industry would gain access to students and have greater influence over research, thereby acquiring technology for better products and services.

Timelines and intellectual property are key points of contention.Yet companies and universities frequently experience difficulty in research and technology-transfer partnerships. One source of friction is time—both the time required to negotiate agreements and the time allowed to complete the specified research. University faculty and staff think in terms of semesters, while industry focuses on much shorter periods. Another problem is outcomes. Companies prefer results that are proprietary and provide a competitive edge. By contrast, university faculty seek recognition through publication. As a result, negotiations can become prolonged as the parties attempt to reach common ground on issues such as publication, confidentiality and intellectual property rights.

To help industry and universities work together, the ASEE Engineering Deans Council (EDC) organized two industry-university-government workshops where opportunities for collaboration could be articulated and barriers reduced.

The first session, held Feb. 12, 2006, focused on intellectual property. Organizers convened a group of diverse stakeholders to discuss the effectiveness of transferring university research and technology to industry and to identify guiding principles for improving tech transfer and relations between academic and industry sectors. Following this successful workshop, the EDC appointed a task force to enable engineering deans to participate in national discussions relating to tech transfer.

A second workshop, held a year later, explored best practices in negotiating university-industry agreements and approaches to reduce the time required to negotiate contracts. Participants identified a need for better management processes for both universities and companies, such as documenting the procedure used to negotiate contracts and tracking and reporting progress. (Collecting and reporting relevant data is important since people pay attention to what is measured.) Benchmarking best practices at peer universities and companies was also recommended; it is desirable to have common practices rather than local solutions—even good local solutions.

Since different organizations define the start of negotiation and steps along the way differently, participants agreed to focus on trends—for example, whether there is a decrease in the time to negotiate and sign contracts—and also look at the overall benefit that flows from all aspects of university-industry partnerships.

In some institutions, too many people are involved in the process. Poor operating practices, such as lack of timely follow-up after people send materials to the other party, exacerbate the problem. A variety of suggestions were discussed: Starting the contract negotiations at the appropriate level can frequently save significant amounts of time. Procedures are also needed to identify exceptional cases and raise them to a higher administrative level early in the process, and faculty need to be educated on various aspects of intellectual property and export control issues. The most effective approach appears to be to restructure university contracting offices and staff them with experts in industry agreements.

The work continues: The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable has launched the University-Industry Demonstration Project. And engineering deans will remain engaged in the dialogue with a 2008 Engineering Deans Institute devoted to tech transfer and entrepreneurism.

As both workshops stressed, university-industry interactions are key to improving Americans’ quality of life and enhancing competitiveness and productivity. We must continue the dialogue and resolve issues that impede strong partnerships.

Paul Peercy, dean of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the immediate past chair of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council..

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American Society for Engineering Education