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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

WSU dedicates an entire week to celebrate highly valued industry partnership


By David Schwartz
Published: October 19th, 2021

A detailed article on the weeklong celebration of the Washington State partnership with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories appears in the October issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

A number of universities have set aside special days or events to honor their most engaged industry partners in an effort to solidify and nurture these partnerships. Some have even dedicated a day to celebrate a single partner . . . but an entire week?

Well, that’s exactly what Washington State University did, hosting SEL-WSU Collaboration Week Sept. 13-17 to celebrate its long-term relationship with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. The weeklong celebration took place on the WSU Pullman campus (SEL is based in Pullman) and included many opportunities for students, faculty and staff to interact with SEL professionals, along with other informational events. In addition, online viewing was also made available (See a promotion and breakdown of the week’s events at https://corporate.wsu.edu/wsu-sel-collaboration-week/.)

The extensive partnership that exists today actually grew roots in two distinct geographic areas. Ed Sweitzer received his PhD from WSU in 1977, returned to WSU as faculty, and formed SEL in Pullman in 1982. In the early 2000s, Noel N. Schulz, PhD, WSU’s current “First Lady” and the Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, had her initial collaborations with Schweitzer when she was at Mississippi State, and later at Kansas State.

Schulz and her husband Kirk, now President of WSU, arrived in Pullman in 2016. That year Schulz began monthly meetings with the SEL University Relations staff to coordinate engagement beyond electrical engineering.

To date, SEL, which now has over 5,300 employees, has contributed more than $3.7 million to WSU, touching nearly every WSU campus and college as well as signature programs such as Extension, Northwest Public Broadcasting, International Programs, and Cougar Athletics. Today, their engagement includes research collaborations, about 100 interns a year, full-time employees, philanthropy, equipment donations for WSU labs, senior design projects and mentors, student academic experiences, and student organizations.

“There was always a relationship between WSU and SEL from the beginning, but it was more informal,” notes Schulz. “Part of the reason my husband and I applied to WSU was because of SEL. I had worked with them, and several of my students still work for SEL, so it was an opportunity for me to extend my collaboration with them personally. When we got here and Kirk met with Ed early on, Ed said, ‘Let’s make this relationship a little more formal,’ and I started meeting monthly with their collegiate relations contact there and we really started looking at SEL working across campus and across our system.”

The success of that engagement broadening is evident. Take the internships, for example. “They are not just in engineering, but in business — HR, communications, English, technical writing,” Schulz explains. “For a while they were, and still are, our largest hirer of electrical engineering graduates, but now they are doing a lot more in computer science.”

“In addition to hiring our students and giving internships, they do a lot of speaking on campus, in classes, they give students tours of their facilities, and they are always engaged and good community partners,” adds Dana Ulrich, director of corporate engagement. “In addition to scholarships to support our students, they also named a chair at WSU and gave a $1.5 million endowment in honor of Ed Schweitzer.”

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Online meet and greet with Tech Transfer Central’s Director of Distance Learning Debi Melillo

Join Tech Transfer Central’s Director of Distance Learning, Debi Melillo, for a free online meet and greet on October 28, starting at 2:00 pm ET.

Debi will demonstrate the benefits and content available through Tech Transfer Central’s All-Access Pass and answer all of your questions. She’ll outline how the All-Access Pass works, and how your university can save thousands of dollars in staff training costs while dramatically expanding professional development opportunities for your entire office and faculty.

The session will be informal and brief, and Debi will stay online to answer any questions and schedule demos. Plus, just for attending this free session we are offering an exclusive first-year discount good for $500 off on your first-year subscription.

The meet and greet is free, but registration is required. Please click here to register and qualify for this exclusive $500 savings. We look forward to meeting you online. If you can’t attend the meet and greet but wish to schedule a demo, contact Debi directly at dmelillo@techtransfercentral.com.

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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