MIT President Susan Hockfield and Saudi Aramco President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on June 18 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, providing a framework that will greatly expand the research and education partnership between MIT and Saudi Aramco.
“Our signing today is a solid testimony to the vision of advancing technology and higher education shared between Saudi Aramco and MIT,” Al-Falih said. “We have a long history in forging partnerships with world-class institutions. What excites me is the coming together of great minds from Saudi Aramco and MIT to find solutions for the world’s challenges while pursuing research of common interest and building human capital at MIT and Saudi Aramco, and contributing to building a knowledge economy in Saudi Arabia.”
Several elements of the MOU have been agreed to for implementation. Saudi Aramco has agreed to become a Founding Member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), raising its participation from its current Sustaining Membership. This will entail a substantial increase in the scope of research collaboration, encompassing renewable energy; energy efficiency; energy economics; CO2 management and conversion; desalination; advanced materials; and a range of hydrocarbon production areas such as computational reservoir modeling and simulation, geophysics and unconventional gas. MITEI Founding Members commit to a $5-million-per-year program for a period of five years. Al-Falih also announced Saudi Aramco’s plans to create a satellite R&D center in Cambridge, Mass., to enhance the research collaboration and facilitate the exchange of researchers.
Saudi Aramco and MIT also have agreed to the terms of an enhancement of the Ibn Khaldun Postdoctoral Fellowship for Saudi Arabian women and to the terms of an engagement with the MIT Venture Mentoring Service aimed at increasing entrepreneurial activity in Saudi Arabia.
Hockfield said, “The relationship contemplated by the MOU would represent another substantial partnership between academia and industry, and serve MIT’s commitment to advance research, technology development and education around the world. We welcome this opportunity to build the scale and scope of our existing partnership and to enhance the transfer of knowledge between our two institutions.”
The MOU contemplates extensive additional cooperation in several areas:
- participation by Saudi Aramco in MIT’s Master of Engineering in Manufacturing program;
- collaboration in enhanced precollege teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through extension of the MIT/BLOSSOMS program;
- collaboration in online education;
- professional development through customized short courses and participation in advancing higher education for women in energy engineering fields;
- capacity-building, including possible job fairs and development of career opportunities in Saudi Arabia for suitable graduates;
- entrepreneurship and innovation programs;
- professional development and lifelong learning programs, including joint conferences, workshops and technical symposia, and customized short courses; and
- cultural exchange and outreach programs involving the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, and the Agha Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
These cooperative efforts will be developed by a high-level MIT–Saudi Aramco steering committee.