Good partners complement each other's strengths, a principle set to guide a new agreement between UTS and Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands.
TU/e, an international leader in engineering, science and technology, sees UTS as one of a select few universities in the world with which it has developed significant synergy in research according to Professor Aarnout Brombacher, Eindhoven's Vice Rector International Relations and Dean of the Department of Industrial Design.
Professor Brombacher recently visited UTS to sign a Key Technology Partnership (KTP) agreement to develop opportunities for academic exchange and research collaboration. "Eindhoven is very careful – some might even say reluctant – to develop joint programs," Professor Brombacher said.
"UTS is the second university in the world with which we have a joint PhD program because we have a joint, solid research basis. Although the universities are geographically far apart, in terms of our research focus, they are very close."
Collaboration between UTS and TU/e began when a senior staff member from TU/e's Faculty of Industrial Design came to Sydney as a professor. "Normally it would be a case of 'goodbye – let's keep in touch'," Professor Brombacher said. "But very soon we decided that it would be a good idea for him to be part time in Eindhoven and part time in Sydney."
Professor Kees Dorst, Director of the UTS Designing Out Crime Research Centre, now spends one or two months of the year in the Netherlands and the rest in Sydney.
Last year UTS and TU/e signed an institution-wide agreement for a joint doctoral degree, which was driven by collaborative activity in design, in particular a UTS-TU/e joint research project, Materialising Memories. The project aims to design for improved reliving of personal memories. Professor Brombacher's visit also provided an opportunity to sign individual student agreements of participation in the joint PhD program.
Professor Brombacher said the "absolute basis" of the new KTP agreement would be a joint research program. "Joint research is only robust when you have synergy – where researchers here are doing one thing, and researchers in the Netherlands are doing something else but closely related; where one plus one makes three. You don't have that very much in education, per se, but you do in research."
"We already have a joint research program in the field of design, architecture and building, but we're now starting to see adjacent disciplines like computer science and the engineering disciplines – but maybe even broader than that – starting to develop."
To date UTS has signed KTP Agreements with five institutions in Greater China, five in India and three in Europe. Over the next one or two years the university expects to establish new agreements with institutions in Europe, Asia, North America and South America.
Main photo caption: From the left, PhD students Doménique van Gennip and Annemarie Zijlema, Dean of UTS's Graduate Research School Professor Nicky Solomon, Associate Professor Elise van den Hoven from the School of Design and Professor Brombacher.