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MIT, Ford join in $20m education, research venture

MIT and Ford Motor Co. last Wednesday announced a multimillion-dollar collaboration focusing on education and research, with special emphasis on environmental challenges. Ford will provide at least $20 million in funding for an initial five-year period.

Initial priorities will include the study of engineering design, creating educational programs on future technologies, and seed funding for a major MIT-directed consortium that will address environmental issues.

"The challenges of the 21st century require closer, more cooperative interactions among universities, corporations and governments, leveraging our complementary strengths to address the global challenges ahead," said President Charles Vest. "We salute Ford's leadership role in the initial funding of this environmental consortium that offers a new and dynamic approach to addressing some of the major environmental issues facing the planet."

The agreement represents an intensified commitment by both organizations that builds on a long history of working together. It results from a recognition that changes brought about by globalization and the impact of information technologies require new models of collaboration by universities and industries.

"Our goal is to work with MIT on this ambitious research program to develop and use scientific data in ways that should improve decision-making on critical policy issues," said Alex Trotman, chairman and CEO of Ford. "This partnership between Ford and MIT will increase understanding of global environmental issues. In addition, it will provide ways that both industry and universities can keep up with emerging technologies and develop ways to use those technologies that are beneficial to everyone."

"Ford and MIT already share a strong history. We believe this new joint effort will help set a model for how universities and industries can work together to achieve mutual benefits," added John McTague, Ford's vice president for technical affairs.

Provost Joel Moses, who will be the director of the collaboration for MIT, commented, "Strengthening MIT's relationship with industry continues to be a priority of the Institute. This long-term commitment marks a new level of cooperation between MIT and Ford, and holds great promise for MIT's education program."

MIT faculty and researchers will initiate projects, publish articles and disseminate findings publicly, all under the standard intellectual property terms that govern MIT's interactions with industry.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 1997.

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