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$25m program will establish MIT counterpart in Malaysia

The MIT Technology Development Program has signed a $25 million agreement to assist the Ehsan Foundation in Malaysia in creating the Malaysia University of Science and Technology (MUST) over the next five years. ������������������

The agreement was signed in Malaysia in January by Dean Robert Brown of the School of Engineering after extensive discussions over two years among Ehsan Foundation officials and Professors Fred Moavenzadeh and David H. Marks of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. ������������������

"This is a wonderful opportunity for MIT's School of Engineering to play a leadership role in helping others establish high quality technical education," Dean Brown said. "It also will be a great experience for the faculty and students involved in the project." ������������������

The arrangement was solidified last year when Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed met with President Charles M. Vest, Provost Joel Moses, Corporation Chairman Paul E. Gray, Dean Brown and J. David Litster, vice president for research and dean for graduate education. While here for the meeting, the prime minister also visited the Media Laboratory and other facilities on and off campus. The MUST project is similar to TDP programs already underway in Thailand and Argentina. ������������������

The goal is to create an elite private teaching and research university in the state of Selangor Darul Ehsan that will promote science, engineering and technology. Initially, the university will cater to the brightest Malaysian graduate students. An undergraduate engineering program will be developed later in the process. ������������������

Three senior MIT faculty members--Professors Marks, Moavenzadeh and Gregory J. McRae, Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering--will form the Executive Committee that assures academic excellence.

In creating the university, MIT will provide expertise in four key areas: academic program; research agenda; institutional development, focusing on administration, organization management and financing; and forming partnerships with government and industry. ������������������

To accomplish this, MIT will solicit participation by faculty and graduate students to work with their Malaysian counterparts in developing academic programs. The exchange of faculty, staff and graduate students will be encouraged. ������������������

In addition to the $25 million, Malaysia is expected to donate a gift to MIT to endow chairs, fellowships and programs that support the Institute's international mission. A joint committee made up of senior representatives from both institutions will monitor and supervise the program. ������������������

Initially, the focus will be on short courses, executive seminars, curriculum development and joint research. Over the long term, MUST will broaden its mission to include classroom instruction, laboratories, a library, research facilities, an active program in applied and theoretical research, and education activities that supplement and expand upon class work. ������������������

To promote graduate opportunities for Malaysian students at MIT, a few full-time research assistants will work on the project. In addition, Malaysians will be assigned to MIT professors as visiting research engineers or visiting scientists to help them develop expertise in their fields. Visitors, admitted through normal MIT procedures, will study at the Institute for up to two years. There also will be shorter visits of about two weeks for research meetings or to attend a short course. ������������������

Collaborative research will be an important element in the partnership. Areas which offer the most potential are telecommunications, information technology, manufacturing systems, biotechnology, transportation and infrastructure, energy and environment, economic development, and urban and regional planning. Professor Moavenzadeh will oversee this research. ������������������ ������������������ ������������������

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 1997.

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