April 24, 2017, by Liz Cass

VC praises a decade-long engineering partnership with Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and University of Nottingham’s faculty of engineering have been research partners for nearly 10 years. To date, more than 30 faculty and 35 students from Virginia Tech and Nottingham have worked together. Last week at a presidential lecture held in Virginia the leaders of both institutions celebrated the partnership.

Virginia Tech’s Tim Sands and University of Nottingham’s Professor Sir David Greenaway were speaking at a public event held on Tuesday 18 April as part of the Beyond Boundaries Presidential Lecture Series. The pair praised the partnership and held it up as model for further collaboration.

“From our standpoint it’s been a great success and the reason for that success is because it actually started from the bottom up,” not from the presidential level, said Professor Sir David, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham.

“It was our leaders in engineering who saw the potential of making the combination of two units a lot stronger than they are independently. As we’ve grown to know each other better in this last decade we have discovered that there are these touchpoints — there’s a similar kind of heritage. It’s been a great success, I think it provides a platform for further partnership.”                   

The Lecture Series invites thought leaders to inspire disruptive and transformational approaches to thinking globally and the changing landscape of higher education.

President Sands said the two universities share common approaches and philosophies, including an emphasis on partnerships and the commitment to the public good.

He said: “We understand that we can’t do it alone. Part of our strengths comes from the partners that we attract, not only in higher education but across the sectors.”

The event highlighted that The University of Nottingham is one of the United Kingdom’s largest comprehensive, research-intensive universities. In addition to four campuses and three teaching hospitals in the East Midlands, it also offers campuses in China and Malaysia.

The VC said he was pleased with the growth of the campuses in China and Malaysia — citing the number and quality of students and the development of research programs — but noted that they are still evolving.

“We are gaining confidence,” he said, but stressed that it requires a long-term investment in order to get long-term value.

He also said it would be difficult to describe what The University of Nottingham would be like in 30 years.

“That’s a really tough one,” he said. He said he anticipates a more globalized higher-education system, with more diverse students who are more mobile in moving around the globe.

“Place will still be important.”

Both President Sands and Professor Sir David agreed that traditional college campuses won’t go away, even as technology continue to change education.

“There are these communities — like Virginia Tech, like the University of Nottingham — that help transform individuals,” said Professor Sir David.

“It’s not just during classes, it’s during the 24-hour experience they have living on campus,” said Virginia Tech’s Sands.

Envisioning Virginia Tech – Beyond Boundaries is an exercise in imagining a vision for Virginia Tech a generation into the future.

Beyond Boundaries engages the university-wide community in a long-range visioning process, charting a course to position Virginia Tech as a top-100 global university while addressing the challenges and opportunities in the changing landscape of higher education.

Posted in EngineeringEvents