By Beth Colledge, Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK – Late last year, Penn State signed a strategic partnership agreement with Siemens Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of the integrated technology company Siemens AG, which operates in 190 countries. This alliance — the first of its kind between Siemens and an American university — will benefit Penn State, its students and Siemens through research collaborations, an enhanced recruiting relationship, and engagement across a wide range of University programs.
In conjunction with the new agreement, Siemens Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Spiegel will be speaking to Penn State engineering students about innovation and entrepreneurship on Thursday, Jan. 24. The alliance also will be celebrated that evening at a reception at the Nittany Lion Inn. Both events were rescheduled from last October due to inclement weather from Hurricane Sandy.
Building on a longstanding relationship between the two institutions, the partnership positions Penn State as the first U.S. university in the Siemens One family of strategic customers. The Siemens One enterprise group integrates innovations and technologies from across the full range of Siemens’ operations, and it identifies organizations with intersecting areas of interest that can simultaneously bolster and benefit from these efforts.
The new agreement likewise recognizes Siemens’ significant collaboration with Penn State across multiple areas of focus: health care, infrastructure, energy, people development, sustainability, and research and development. And the agreement highlights the strength of Penn State as a source for corporate talent; in a 2010 Wall Street Journal survey, recruiters ranked the University as their top destination for high-quality graduates.
“This is an especially exciting development for our students because it will create new opportunities for them,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “Industry partnerships give students closer contact with the professional world and the people who work in it, and such contact helps distinguish an excellent education. Real-world research projects, internships, lectures from industry leaders—these kinds of opportunities and more will grow out of this alliance, helping Penn State to remain at the leading edge of American higher education.
“Penn State and Siemens have been working together for years to the great benefit of both organizations and the constituencies we serve,” Erickson noted. “Now, we’re formalizing and expanding our relationship to better enable us to reach our shared goals.”
“At Siemens, we believe our success is determined by our ability to anticipate and engineer the future,” said Spiegel. “The alliance provides Siemens access to the next generation of innovators and inventors and establishes a framework for the mutually beneficial exchange of technologies, research, and ideas.”
Spiegel’s presentation to Penn State students represents one of many real-world connections and opportunities for education and research that will grow out of the alliance. Several ongoing or upcoming projects further illustrate the agreement’s potential:
Research and development:
— Siemens Corporate Research and Penn State University signed a master agreement in June 2010.
— Penn State is constructing a turbine test facility to do research on turbine cooling. This is a collaborative project with the Department of Energy and Pratt & Whitney, and Siemens Energy serves as one of the advisory board members for the Department of Energy overseeing the entire project. Penn State purchased Siemens equipment necessary for the turbine test facility.
— Research projects on wind turbines have already taken place.
— Siemens and Hershey Medical Center have executed a Strategic Alliance Agreement for medical imaging technology at the Medical Center. This medical imaging technology is being used for research on topics such as sports concussions.
— The Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems (CIHDS), an interdisciplinary center in its fourth year, promotes a holistic approach to understanding and solving problems of access and quality in healthcare. Siemens has been CIHDS’ most generous sponsor and was integral to its launch and early success.
— Siemens will provide funding for a course titled “Introduction to Engineering Design,” a first-year engineering design course, required for most engineering students, that uses a design-driven curriculum with emphasis placed on team-based design, communication skills (graphical, oral and written), and computer-aided analysis tools. The course and a real-world project will be used by more than 900 Penn State freshmen.
— “The Learning Factory” in the College of Engineering helps to bring the real world into the classroom by providing engineering students with practical hands-on experience through industry-sponsored projects. Through its sponsorship for spring 2013, Siemens will supply active cases for senior capstone design projects, and the company’s professional engineers will collaborate with students on their projects.
— Siemens Building Technologies have made the University Park campus more sustainable through the use of energy-saving automated building controls.
— Siemens also provides energy, lighting and temperature controls for the entire Penn State Capital Campus in Harrisburg and has a long-standing history of work with the Penn State Mont Alto campus.
“Both Penn State and Siemens have taken leadership roles in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges in areas like health care, energy and technology,” said Henry C. “Hank” Foley, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at Penn State. “We both share a commitment to sustainability and innovation, a global vision, and a recognition that our people are our greatest asset. Whether we’re working together to solve specific problems today, or preparing our students to be the problem-solvers of tomorrow, our strategic alliance will raise the bar for what partnerships between industry and higher education can accomplish.”