Hofstra University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) is launching the Center for Innovation, a venture in which Hofstra faculty will provide technical and engineering expertise to regional businesses and research centers, thereby supporting the region’s research-based economy and providing students with valuable real-world experience.
Acting Dean of SEAS Sina Rabbany said, “The Center of Innovation promises to be a crown jewel in the collection of educational and socially conscious intellectual services Hofstra University offers to the wider community.”
All parties will benefit from this Center of Innovation: faculty have the opportunity to work on practical technical problems of immediate interest to the business community. Students gain real-work experience and exposure to industry issues. Companies are able to partner with professionals who bring a fresh perspective to issues and projects that are too big for an in-house solution. If no Hofstra faculty members have the specific expertise needed for a particular project, the Center will employ consultants who are qualified to see the project through to completion. “This ensures that the team assembled to solve a problem will be the best available, made up of experienced professors, engineers, designers and scientists,” says Dr. Kevin Craig, the newly named director of the Center of Innovation and one of its creators. Dr. Craig has many years’ experience teaching at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Marquette University, where he worked on similarly modeled programs.
What distinguishes the Center from similar university-business partnerships is that any resulting intellectual property will be retained by the hiring company. Additionally, overhead cost will be kept low, and monies raised by overhead fees will be reinvested in Hofstra SEAS labs, equipment and software.
SEAS was established in 2012, combining Hofstra’s growing Departments of Engineering and Computer Science. Also that year, an ongoing $12 million facilities renovation began for the school’s buildings, Weed and Adams Hall. Laboratories and classrooms received new technologies, machinery, and equipment. While all of these are accessible to trained engineering and computer science students, they will also support the efforts of the Center of Innovation.
Dr. Rabbany adds, “The investment in infrastructure and in expanding faculty numbers to meet the need for more technically literate members of the workforce is already paying dividends, as more students choose Hofstra for their engineering and computer science degrees.” Hofstra’s undergraduate engineering programs ranked 47th among the Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs at schools that do not grant doctoral degrees in engineering, according to the 2015 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings.
Also this winter, SEAS officially began its co-operative educational program, giving qualified students real work experience at engineering and technology firms. For this inaugural term, positions are available to eligible engineering students, both in the local area and outside the region. By the Spring 2016 semester, opportunities will be added for computer science majors. The co-op program will also benefit from relationships formed through the Center for Innovation and vice versa.