Sending Corporate Scientists To School

When Robert E. Gee arrived at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Interfacial Engineering in February as director of technology transfer, he discovered four visiting researchers who were busy transferring technology. Unfortunately, they were all from Japan, and the flow of information westward across the Pacific was not exactly the type of transfer that Gee had been hired to promote. So Gee came up with a new strategy to get U.S. industry more involved; he arranged to bring industrial scientists to the center to work with university researchers. This year, seven scientists—sponsored by 3M, Monsanto, Du Pont, Eastman Kodak, Medtronic, Union Carbide, and Xerox—will begin three-to-12-month stints working with university faculty and grad students. While the research done at the CIE is meant to be nonproprietary, Gee hopes the industrial fellows will take what they learn back to their firms and “run with it.” The...

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