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Interdisciplinary efforts in graduate education
The theme of the next issue of Professional Education News will be interdisciplinary efforts in graduate professional education. Do you know of a graduate project or program at UD that gets extraordinary results by crossing disciplinary lines? Do you know of an outstanding interdisciplinary effort to serve our professional graduate students? Please send your ideas for feature
articles or other comments on the newsletter to:
John Sawyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Provost for Professional Education
Office of Graduate and Professional Education
A message from the Associate Provost for Professional Education
Office of Graduate and Professional Education
What's in it for me? How industry partnerships strengthen scholarship
When I first took on the role of associate provost in the Office of Graduate and Professional Education I asked Provost Tom Apple what he thought was the biggest benefit of having strong graduate professional education programs. Prior to coming to the University of Delaware Tom had held a similar role at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Tom told me that at RPI, because of their strong professional programs, they had alumni employed at many of the most significant technical industries in the country. Because these alumni enjoyed the excellent technical education at RPI, and they maintained their ties, faculty at RPI had access to those industries and their leaders. These networks strengthened faculty research programs, brought resources to their laboratories, provided real world problems for the classrooms and student projects, and in many other ways strengthened the faculty, research and programs at RPI.
Benefits of partnership
As I have had the pleasure over the past three years to work to understand and support the many professional graduate programs at UD, I've seen the power of the same types of partnerships, both formal and informal, that have strengthened and enriched the research and educational programs here.
Professional partnerships are indeed not new at UD. Some go back many years. One example you will read about in this newsletter is the Center for Composite Materials, established in 1974 to connect the academic researcher to real world problems. For nearly four decades those relationships have provided research direction, shared instrumentation, internships for students, industry advisers, consulting opportunities for faculty and enhancements in technology transfer.
Another long-standing example is the internship program in statistics within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which places graduate students in companies such as DuPont, Condé Nast, Chase, ING Direct and others. Those internship placements pay dividends back to the department in the form of linkages with industry, advisory members and engagement in professional development.
Like the long-standing partnerships, these new partnerships range from graduate student internships to cutting edge research. Each pays off in opportunities for students to develop new skills, but each also returns to the faculty opportunities for shared equipment, access to the most pressing research questions of our time, and access to data to test our theories and to explore new scientific horizons. The partnerships reported in this newsletter are just a few of the many that exist across the UD campus.
Theoretical research and practical application
In the last Professional Education News, I made the point that the leading-edge scholarship of a research-intensive university is critical to assuring that professionals are prepared to lead in the industries, government and nonprofit agencies of the future. In most professions, the best professional schools are those embedded within world class research institutions.
The goals of theoretical research and the goals of business and industry are sometimes depicted as diametrically opposed. Business and industry are stereotyped as primarily profit driven enterprises devoid of social value; academia as ivory tower divorced from reality.
In reality, linkages between the two serve to highlight their many shared goals, and provide opportunities for the practical application of research knowledge, as well as a steady stream of new data and ideas for research and investigation.
"There is nothing so practical as a good theory."
The famously quoted dictum of pioneering social psychologist Kurt Lewin points us to the fundamental connection between the theoretical and the practical. Universities must continue to engage in the leading-edge theoretical research that will be tested and applied in the real world, as well as train the future leaders and scientists who will be addressing the world's social and technical challenges. Industry scientists and business professionals can provide us academicians and theorists with the real-world facts, problems, and data relevant to conducting vital research, and provide critical input into how we prepare those future leaders.
The stories in this newsletter demonstrate that the engagement of external partners is critical to the development of our students, and pays back dividends to the faculty, research and curriculum.