McCormick Magazine

Expanding our reach

McCormick is building strong global partnerships


vinayak dravidWhen it comes right down to it, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science takes up relatively little space: several buildings on a campus in the middle of the country. But its reach — the reach of its students, its faculty, its education, and its research — spans the globe, touching dozens of countries worldwide.

Global connections like these spur new kinds of research and offer faculty and students new views of the world. McCormick has fostered those connections with its long-standing history of global engagement through workshops, exchange programs, research collaborations, and memoranda of understanding with international universities and research institutions.

"In this age, global collaborations are becoming more and more necessary, and in some cases essential, for research breakthroughs and innovations," says Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School. "Our students need to be global citizens — they need to have a broad view of the world that, for them, is only going to get smaller. McCormick is our home base, but we have relationships that connect us to every region in the world."

In a recent voluntary survey, almost half of McCormick faculty members reported having a total of nearly 600 global interactions, including university visits, student and faculty exchanges, joint publications, international conferences, and other educational activities. These connections involved collaborators in countries on every continent except Antarctica.

Global relations also involve a host of complications — memoranda of understanding and funding agreements, for example. Until now, students and faculty had no easy way to address these concerns or view the breadth and depth of their colleagues' collaborations.

McCormick aims to change that with a new initiative — headed by Vinayak P. Dravid, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the NUANCE Center — called Global McCormick.

"We are immersed in the global ecosystem of education and research," Dravid says. "McCormick is taking the lead to be globally engaged and present itself to the rest of the world in education, research, and outreach."

Dravid, who has been at Northwestern for nearly 20 years, has experienced global engagement firsthand: Over the last decade, he's been involved with several projects with institutions in Singapore, Japan, western Europe, and India — including a new $1.5 million program funded by the U.S.–India Science and Technology Forum that will support workshops and lectures and foster student exchanges. He is part of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and is active in global outreach with nongovernmental organizations and overseas government agencies. Now he will use that experience as a catalyst to encourage faculty and students to take advantage of global connections.

Over the past year, Dravid has been organizing the development of a web portal that will serve as the central hub for McCormick's global affairs, identifying McCormick's strengths and areas where it has a strong presence, as well as areas of opportunity. These activities range from the grassroots level — such as individual faculty members connecting with international faculty partners — to major initiatives in which McCormick can play a leadership role.

"We want to leverage the strengths of faculty, research centers, and the overall collaborative, interdisciplinary ambiance at the McCormick School — which is immersed in the 'global city' of Chicago — to nurture and enhance sustainable interactions with global partners," Dravid says.

In the same vein, the web portal will make it easier for faculty to sort through the nuts and bolts of such interactions. "It will help support their aspirations by minimizing barriers," Dravid says.

To help leverage McCormick's strengths, Dravid has called on faculty members with strong expertise and commitment to certain regions of the world to act as leaders in their areas. Those faculty are now appropriately known as McCormick Ambassadors.

"I realized that I could identify opportunities in India and bring them to McCormick, and vice versa," Dravid says. "Then I saw McCormick has a lot of people in that same position. They know the right people and places and can advise other colleagues. We want them to take the lead in developing these activities, seeking out funding opportunities, and creating multi-institutional teams across the globe."

These interactions benefit not only faculty but also students, staff, and alumni of McCormick as well, says Dravid. "It's not inconceivable that a McCormick graduate could find his or her first job in some part of China, then take a promotion somewhere else in the world. We need to address this by offering opportunities like internships, study abroad programs, and research opportunities to prepare global leaders."

The ultimate goal is to expand the initiative to include all of Northwestern. "We want Northwestern to be a highly visible, globally engaged institution with sustainable international programs that have lasting and enduring impact," Dravid says. "So why don't we start with McCormick?"

While this new initiative aims to strengthen McCormick's international presence, the school has long had strong global partnerships. The following articles highlight McCormick's connections in several countries. Although they represent a small fraction of McCormick's total number of global interactions, these articles offer insight into the trials and triumphs of the global world of McCormick.

—Emily Ayshford


globalThe McCormick School has launched the new Global McCormick web site that features information on the school's global initiatives, research, and news.

Visitors to the site can navigate to a map of the world and click on any region to find information on McCormick's collaborations there. Academics, potential research partners, and others from outside the United States who are interested in forming new relationships with McCormick can identify North-western faculty members who serve as global ambassadors for specific countries and regions.

The Global McCormick site will also serve as a resource for U.S. students seeking opportunities abroad and for international students seeking opportunities at Northwestern.

The Global McCormick web site is designed to be an ongoing and frequently updated compilation of news and resources about McCormick's international collaborations.