Ford RWTH Alliance Established© Ford Motor Company
RWTH Aachen places emphasis on both fundamental and applied research. For this reason, the University has a number of research collaborations with partners in industry, including the US carmaker Ford. So far, the University has conducted research projects with Ford Werke GmbH in Cologne and the Ford Research Centre in Aachen. In the future, this cooperation will be taken onto another level: RWTH Rector Professor Ernst Schmachtenberg and Paul Mascarenas, Chief Technical Officer and Vice President Research & Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Company, now have signed the Ford RWTH Alliance.
In the US, the Ford University Alliance program is already firmly established. RWTH Aachen and Ford have decided to adapt the program to meet the specific conditions and requirements of the European research landscape. The Ford RWTH Alliance is the first of its kind outside of the US.
So far, only the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT for short, the University of Michigan, and Stanford University have entered into this innovative collaborative partnership with Ford Motor Company.
Planning Security for Research
The budget provided by Ford for the alliance provides planning security for the agreed research projects, which focus on complex topics with long-term relevance for the automotive industry, mostly interdisciplinary basic research projects. Outside of the alliance program, such projects could hardly be realized, as they typically cannot be assigned to a specific division and budget.
For universities, such projects are highly important: despite their basic research orientation, they also focus on real-world application potential, due to the collaboration with an industrial partner. The corporate partner considers these projects a driving force for innovation which in the long-term contribute to enhancing competitive edge.
The topics of the research projects are decided in close consultation between the Ford Research Centre and the University divisions responsible for research transfer and external funding. Involvement of university-central management is necessary, as the alliance constitutes a university-wide cooperation that is not restricted to only a few institutes or departments. The individual projects are two years in duration; there will be annual executive meetings between the participating RWTH institutes and Ford divisions. The first alliance projects are scheduled to begin at the beginning of 2014.