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Working with Industry

Exploring the value in collaborating with industry

We’re approaching the home stretch of another great fall semester. Despite the ongoing challenges we have faced due to the pandemic, it feels so good to be in “these hills.” I hope each of you are doing well and staying healthy!

In a survey to global research leaders, Elsevier, a publishing company specializing in scientific, technical, and medical content asked, “What is the value in collaborating with industry?” Their top five answers:

• Better potential for societal impact

• Better student opportunities and outcomes

• Increased funding

• Economic development potential

• Utilize government programs for funding

So how does the modern-day researcher collaborate with industry? One avenue to consider is through alumni and alumni networks.

For many successful university research programs, the key component is building a system that capitalizes on excellence in a specific area. By way of example:

Academic/Research Programs supply graduating students (new alumni) to the industry workforce. As those graduates grow and mature in their respective careers, there is a linkage to the university program from which they came. This may come in the form of more workforce needs, innovation needs, or the need for the university program to solve a research problem the company doesn’t have the capacity, time, or resources to address on its own.

Over time, this cycle repeats itself as the relationship deepens and a track record of success is demonstrated. The reality is that half of the effort was based on the fact that there was a level of familiarity to the university because of an individual’s connections to their alma mater.

A good example of this within Clemson is Automotive Engineering. While the program is relatively young by way of comparison to other disciplines, it is turning the corner where Clemson alumni are ascending the ranks of companies in a wide variety of automotive segments, including household names such as Ford, GE, John Deere, and Tesla. As the cycle repeats itself, it is almost assured that the workforce that came from Clemson will remember the level of excellence from their program and the University. Alumni are the elements that keep this cycle in perpetual motion.

As you consider future collaboration, look to see where our alumni are. You might be surprised of their subject matter expertise and how they might be willing to be an advocate for you and your research endeavors.

Stay healthy and happy holidays!

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