Study Finds Industry-University Collaborations Benefit Research Trainees

October 20, 2017

Universities and businesses benefit from collaborative research endeavors, but what about the graduate students who train in them? A new study in The Journal of Technology Transfer says that graduate students benefit significantly from training in these kinds of consortia, specifically National Science Foundation-funded Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers. The study, which is part of an ongoing effort to measure the country’s innovative capacity, compared two groups of trainees. The first included 173 trainees across 42 cooperative research centers, while the second included 87 trainees who were not affiliated with a cooperative. Surveyed about their experiences, trainees in cooperatives felt, on average, with a few qualifications, more prepared for their careers and more satisfied with their training and reported having bigger networks than did their traditional trainee counterparts.

The study’s lead author, Olena Leonchuk, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at North Carolina State University, said via email that the study’s biggest takeaway is that the NSF-funded collaboratives not only benefit industry, university and government but also graduate students. She attributed those gains to the fact that “industry involvement in these centers follows a more consortia model, as opposed to more one-on-one contractual relationships with individual faculty.” Students are therefore trained “in a team environment and have a meaningful experience working with industry on real-world problems before graduation.”

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