How to work with industry in mutually beneficial ways

Collaboration through professional societies offers students real-world learning opportunities and universities a way to enhance graduate employability. Here’s how to do it

Ali Zwain's avatar
18 Aug 2023
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In today’s rapidly evolving world, collaboration between universities and industries is essential for addressing challenges, improving outcomes and nurturing future talent. Strong connections and the ability to leverage the resources provided by professional societies can benefit both parties significantly.

This article provides practical advice on how to work with industry in mutually beneficial ways, focusing on the establishment of local sections and student chapters within professional societies to facilitate collaboration.

1. Create synergistic relationships

Professional societies bring universities and industries together. Actively engaging and collaborating with these societies is a way for universities to ensure that their programmes align with industry needs and enhance the employability of their graduates. Al-Mustaqbal University has established an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter in the chemical engineering and petroleum industries department. Through this initiative, students engage with industry professionals, organise guest lectures, workshops and industrial visits, and collaborate on industry-sponsored projects.

To establish partnerships with professional societies, universities should identify relevant societies that align with their academic programmes and goals. This can be done through research and evaluation of the societies’ focus areas, missions and member profiles.

2. Industry relevance and talent acquisition

Professional societies serve as a valuable talent pool for industries seeking skilled professionals. Through collaboration with these societies, industry professionals can identify and recruit individuals who have actively participated in social activities, demonstrating a strong commitment to their field. This partnership allows companies to acquire talent well versed in the latest technologies, practices and industry trends.

Universities play a crucial role in supporting this collaboration. They facilitate interactions among student chapters affiliated with professional societies and local sections of those societies. For example, a university’s student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) can collaborate with the local ASME section to host events that bridge academia and industry.

3. Sustainable collaboration for future success

The establishment of local sections and student chapters within professional societies fosters sustainable collaboration between universities and industry, driving the growth and success of both parties. Students who actively participate in social activities gain practical experience, expand their networks and develop a deep understanding of industry needs. This makes them highly valuable assets for future employers, possessing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

The collaboration between universities and industry through professional societies nurtures a culture of continuous learning and innovation. It encourages professionals to stay up to date, adapt to new challenges and contribute to progress. This dynamic exchange of knowledge and expertise ensures that universities and industries remain at the forefront of developments, maintaining a competitive edge in the global market.

How to set up a professional society student chapter

The process of establishing local sections and student chapters typically involves the following steps:

  • Thorough research: Conduct comprehensive research to identify reputable professional societies in your field that offer provisions for local sections and student chapters. Consider each society’s prominence, relevance to your area of study or industry, and its track record of supporting collaborative initiatives.
  • Engage with the society: Initiate contact with the professional society’s central administration or relevant representatives to express your interest in establishing a local section or student chapter. Seek guidance on their requirements, guidelines and procedures for creating these entities. A proactive and well-informed approach will increase your chances of receiving their support.
  • Form a dedicated team: Assemble a committed team of like-minded individuals who share a passion for the field and possess the necessary skills to drive the establishment process. Ensure that the team members represent diverse perspectives and strengths to provide effective leadership and efficient execution.
  • Garner support and approval: Present your proposal to key stakeholders, including university administrators, influential faculty members and industry professionals. Seek their endorsement and support for the establishment of the local section or student chapter. Highlight the value it can bring to the academic community in terms of industry engagement and the professional development of students.
  • Continuously evaluate and enhance: Regularly assess the impact and effectiveness of the local section or student chapter’s activities. Seek feedback from members, stakeholders and industry partners to identify areas for improvement.

Collaboration between universities and industry is crucial for addressing challenges and fostering talent. By establishing strong connections through professional societies, both parties can benefit in numerous ways. Embracing such collaborations ensures that universities produce graduates equipped with the skills and knowledge demanded by industry, while industry gains access to a talented workforce and remains at the forefront of innovation.

Ali Zwain is an accreditation coordinator in the department of quality assurance and academic performance at Al-Mustaqbal University. He founded the university’s student chapter of AIChE.

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