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Ford and Boeing Conduct Nanotechnology Research with Northwestern University

  • Friday, 7th October 2005
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Northwestern University, Ford Motor Company and The Boeing Company are to form an alliance to conduct nanotechnology research for the two corporate partners at Northwestern University.

The plan was announced today at the dedication of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, a new state-of-the-art teaching facility on Northwestern’s Evanston campus where engineering students will experience a “culture of design.”

Ford and Boeing will each provide financial support for three years, and Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science will provide administration of the alliance and office space for a full-time Ford employee who will serve as the industrial alliance coordinator.

The initial focus of the research conducted at the McCormick School and Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences will be nano-science pertaining to the interests of Ford and Boeing but activity will not necessarily be limited to that. It is expected that research in the areas of nano-composites, specialty metals, thermal materials, coatings and sensors will be among the projects.

University President Henry S. Bienen said, “We are launching an unprecedented partnership between Northwestern and two of the world’s leading companies. We believe this is the first alliance of its kind involving major firms and a prestigious research and teaching institution. The goal is to bring this shared, leading-edge technology to the marketplace.”

“Ford has a long history of research in the field of nanotechnology, and this relationship will strengthen our knowledge for the future,” said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, Ford’s vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering. “As our Chairman, Bill Ford, announced recently, innovation is the compass by which we are setting our company’s future direction — stylish in design, safer for families and first in technology that uses new fuels and offers new services to consumers. In line with this commitment, we are very pleased to be working with Boeing. They have been our long-time partner, and our joint collaboration with Northwestern University underscores just how serious we are about innovating for the future together.”

“We are committed to working with the best and brightest engineers and technologists throughout the world as part of our effort to find and develop technologies that will improve our defense, space and commercial airplane products,” said Bob Krieger, president of Boeing Phantom Works, the company’s advanced research and development unit. “We have benefited from working with the engineers at Ford during the past 10 years, as they have from us. We look forward to working together with both Ford and Northwestern in the future.”

McCormick Dean Julio M. Ottino said, “The close working relationship inherent in an arrangement such as this, with embedded personnel, leads to better understanding and identification of each partner’s needs and expertise. There will be opportunities for technology sharing which will benefit everyone.” He added that the learning experiences of students who will be involved with faculty in research projects “is a goal of equal importance in this innovative enterprise.”

Project proposals will be submitted to an operating committee of representatives from the three partners. The oversight for the alliance will be provided by an executive committee composed of the vice presidents of research of the partners or their designees.

The $30 million Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center is a six-story, 84,000-square-foot facility. Ford Motor Company donated $10 million toward the new building. Other corporate donors include ITW, Deere & Company, 3M and Steelcase.

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