Having managed several university programmes for some of the world’s leading semiconductor companies, I have found that there are three reasons why companies should engage with academia:
- Recruitment – to find people
- Research – to discover new ideas
- Marketing – to influence the broader market
It’s this last topic – Marketing – that mystifies most companies. There’s a general misunderstanding about Education, a notion that you can give them a bit of our stuff and that Universities will then gratefully use this stuff in their classes. Worse still, many companies seek to impose their commercial strategies into Education.
A programme for universities and more
After 20 years in this highly specialised area, I’ve learned the hard way that to be genuinely useful in supporting a University, you must look for the overlap between what your company does and what Universities already do, or feel that they should start to do. Then you must offer something that you can commit to in the long-term.
This is vital, because to introduce a course takes a lot of preparation, and once running, a course usually lasts 5 years.
When that Lab is full of Students, the tools must work!
At Imagination, I have been given a unique opportunity to influence the University Programme from its foundations. We are building the marketing part from scratch! What we do will be measured against genuine usefulness to Educators worldwide, and promoted with an enduring respect for academic needs.
You can see the first fruits of our labour below; we now have a dedicated website where educators and students alike can access a package of resources carefully curated by the team at Imagination.
How to get involved
To be genuinely useful, a package for teaching must include four elements:
- Suitable and affordable hardware (typically less than $200)
- Software development tools, usually free of charge
- Effective support when bugs arise, often run through a forum
- Comprehensive teaching materials (e.g. books)
This last element is the hard one. Companies can’t write teaching materials – they write training courses, with commercial users in mind. Teaching materials are different, because they often overview competing solutions, they start at a basic level (how to unpack the box and connect it up) and the style never contains marketing hype.
Good teaching materials come from academia. After leading more than 15 different teaching material developments, I know how hard it is to find good Authors – I am always on the look-out for Teachers who can create great teaching materials.
Now that the IUP website has been launched, we hope that you will find it a coherent summary of what exists now: boards, software, teaching materials, books and support. There’s a new forum for discussions, and our first attempts on some instructional videos.
If this is of interest to you, please register and we will ensure that you hear about our new projects as they reach completion.
Your feedback about the IUP would be very welcome on the forum, and if you would like to become a contributor (teaching materials, articles, videos etc.) we would love to hear from you.