Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

September 2010    |    Volume: 42    |    Number: 9

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Engineers

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Editor's Desk

A meeting of the minds

Industry and academia often work together in the pages of Industrial Engineer magazine. We fill each issue with knowledgeable contributors from both spectrums, and some even join forces on their stories.

Heck, this month we even featured an article written by a patent attorney who also happens to be an IE (Basil Angelo’s “Patent Process Pending” on Page 31). So maybe we take such collaboration and use of diverse resources for granted.

But in this month’s cover story on Page 26, Dima Nazzal and Cyrus Hillsman tell us that such cooperation is not always so between the ivory towers and business.

Reasons abound.

Semester-based academic deadlines often don’t mesh with the get-it-to-market-early mentality of industry. Academics must publish or perish, while businesses must sell or die. With unaligned expectations, misunderstandings can occur. And many are wary about intellectual property and whether one side or the other will hold something back that is critical to moving research forward.

But we see collaboration in all walks of life these days. Radio, TV stations and newspapers work together. Some business operations share work forces, and some local governments consolidate law enforcement, emergency and other services. Sometimes, even cats and dogs play together.

Academia and industry have a relationship that dates back centuries. Nazzal and Hillsman, in “Better Together,” note that engineering partnerships lag behind joint efforts between academics and the life sciences. They write that engineering academics should take the lead in changing those figures.

Both sides benefit. Monetarily, universities can unleash a new source of funding during a time of dwindling government support. A sidebar to Angelo’s feature details how Stanford University made hundreds of millions of dollars from its relationship with a founder of Google.

Students can get hands-on experiences, making them more viable employees. Businesses can identify promising researchers and future workers. And when looking for a fresh perspective, academics and eager student researchers could fit the bill.

So no matter where you fall on the academic-industry divide, remember that we all have similar goals – continuous improvement, efficiency and productivity – best reached by working together.

Michael Hughes is the managing editor of IIE. He can be reached at or (770) 349-1110.