A successful collaboration model for educators and industry partners for laboratory development and enhancement
Many universities are feeling the budget crunch of lesser support from States governments and facing dwindling resources at the departmental and college levels. Another factor that colleges are facing is "here today, gone tomorrow" supporters of various programs or initiatives. On the other hand, individual companies or philanthropists who want to leave a legacy and provide equipment or financial support would like to make sure their investments have a long-term and lasting effect. There are many cases where the champions of an education initiative such as professors and industry professionals, collaborate to secure donations and develop a course or laboratory. Unfortunately, those initiatives sometimes do not last because the original champions retire or advance to other positions leaving the burden of running a program to unfamiliar administrators or faculty. Furthermore, the company or industry which made the initial investment or donation stops seeing the value of providing additional support in higher education, delegating most of the upkeep and technological improvements to the academic institutions. As a result, in many cases the corresponding college or programs are faced with additional burdens since they just cannot simply abandon labs or courses that form part of their legacy or curriculum. These challenges are demanding a new model for success so that both the university and industry interests and needs are well-served. A new model should involve all the main stakeholders including college administrators, faculty, industry professionals and potential philanthropists. The proposed and implemented model seeks to engage industry for support, both in monetary and equipment donations along with the commitment from the university in terms of space and human resources. This model puts special emphasis on long lasting formal relationships which are committed to continue through periods of change. It is a model where universities maximize the future value of the donation so it can perpetuate itself and continue to impact the quality of education. This approach lessens the burden toward the individual academic department or program by sharing the stress of change with industry partners willing to benefit from a win-win relationship. This model uses financial market forces to benefit both the industry and university and can be a stabilizing force during times of uncertainty or shrinking budgets. It is a model that the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution (ETID) at Texas A&M University is using to impact current and future education initiatives. It has resulted in the collaboration of Manufacturers, Distributors and the Texas A&M Foundation to secure, build and develop state-of-the-art Fluid Power Technology and Pump Laboratories. Both initiatives are endowed for perpetuity and have the future commitment of industry partners to continue to update equipment and development of educational content based upon the changing needs of the industry. This model is used by all parties to develop the educational requirements for entry level employees, provides continuing education for industry professionals, and enhances collaboration with industry in both areas of research and training, insuring continued financial supports for years to come. In summary, this paper presents a new success collaboration model of how to manage and develop relationships with industry partners, and explains what it will take to duplicate this success at other academic institutions. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2009.
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Alvarado, J., & Golla, M.
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