Deans Forum focuses on the future

Published Feb 07, 2014

How do we together create engineering that can meet the challenges of the future?

That was one of the issues on the agenda for the Deans Forum, a global network for some of the world’s foremost universities, which met this week at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

“It is an important and interesting collaboration with prominent partners, which I hope will be developed further,” said KTH President Peter Gudmundson, the gathering’s host.

Deans Forum was started in 2010 by Professor Takehiko Kitamori, from Tokyo University in Japan, and the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in the U.S.

The network met for the first time in Tokyo in 2011. The participants are leaders of some of the world's most prestigious and renowned universities and their engineering faculties, including University of California Berkeley College of Engineering, MIT School of Engineering, ETH Zurich and a group of French universities.

“After the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, I came up with the idea,” Kitamori said. “It became clear how crucial it is to have collaboration between high quality engineering universities and society.”

Collaboration is key to meeting future challenges, Kitamori said, pointing out that the exchange between the undergraduate and postgraduate levels is another important purpose for the network.

“With the right mix of people, we can accomplish great things, said Mark Ritter, from the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

As a prelude, a workshop was held on the subject of “brain-like computing”, or how future information processing in computers will become more like the brain and how it functions.

The idea is that the network will bounce thoughts and ideas around, and inspire and collaborate with each other in efforts to shape the future of engineering and research for a sustainable society.

Some of the visions of the forum include engineering studies that can train future leaders, interdisciplinary collaborations, and the development of higher education’s collaboration with industry.

“For the Deans Forum it’s important now to identify the key issues,” Ritter said.

Jill Klackenberg

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