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School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Pursues Industry Partnerships

Francis J. Doyle III
Francis J. Doyle III is the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In her first year and a half as Director of Corporate Partnerships at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Ellie G. Carlough has implemented a number of measures with fellow administrators to strengthen SEAS’s connections with the private sector.

In a February interview, SEAS Dean Francis J. Doyle III said these efforts to create corporate partnerships continues to be one of his top priorities. He said Harvard has historically lagged behind its peer institutions in these efforts and stressed the numerous benefits these industry relationships could bring.

“It’s not just to get funding for the faculty,” Doyle said. “There are great academic reasons to bring experience to the classroom, to bring case studies to the classroom, to inspire both faculty and students.”

Carlough, who joined the SEAS staff as part of Doyle’s effort to implement better mechanisms for interacting with the private sector, said much of her first year’s work has been focused on building pathways for direct engagement between students and industry, and providing a clear contact point for companies looking to partner with SEAS.

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Together with Keith R. Karasek, the Director of Experiential and Career Development at SEAS, Carlough said she has been working to make recruiting efforts at SEAS more robust and accessible to students. These efforts are meant to supplement, rather than replace, existing job and internship opportunities offered by the University's Office of Career Services through centralized resources such as Crimson Careers.

“We are working on developing an online corporate catalog so that students can see what companies are coming to SEAS looking for internships or jobs, looking for students,” Carlough said.

“I think there is great value in students working with industry and interacting with industry on a variety of levels, particularly for those students who want to go to industry jobs after they graduate,” she added.

Carlough said she is also looking into ways industry partners can potentially sponsor students’ final projects in courses like Engineering Sciences 100: “Engineering Design Projects.”

“It seems like a place where we can integrate industry partners who have projects that would be interesting to students and can mentor them,” she said. “We want to make sure the student is supported and is able to excel in the course.”

Last March, Carlough and Applied Math Professor Lakshminarayanan “L.” Mahadevan launched the inaugural Dean’s Industry Lecture — a series of talks that brings industry leaders to SEAS to educate students about issues at the intersection of science, society, and technology.

Previous lecturers have included Henri Seydoux, the founder and CEO of civil drone company Parrot, and John C.C. Fan, the president and CEO of Kopin Corporation, which specializes in wearable virtual and artificial reality devices.

Carlough said that part of her role is to serve as a point of contact with companies interested in working with SEAS students and faculty.

“This is the first time, recently, that there’s been a staff position to act as a connecting point, so what I’ve been doing is meeting with companies who are coming to SEAS to partner,” Carlough said.

Industry partnerships also provide an opportunity to connect with students in the classroom, Doyle said. When discussing ways to increase faculty numbers, he pointed toward industry as a potential source of lecturers. Currently, guest lecturers from corporations are brought into classes through faculty connections, but in the future, those hired from industry would hold positions similar to Professors of the Practice, who are non-tenured faculty at Harvard.

“We need to do quality control and make sure these are reasonable people who understand our pedagogy, understand our culture of working with students on the campus,” Doyle said. “It’s a great opportunity to bring in world experience.”

—Staff writer Ruth A. Hailu can be reached at ruth.hailu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ruth_hailu_

—Staff writer Amy L. Jia can be reached at amy.jia@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmyLJia.

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