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Four Northeast Ohio Universities Commit to Boosting Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences; NorTech Led Effort Leads to Unprecedented Level of Cooperation.

CLEVELAND -- NorTech, the economic development organization focused on developing Northeast Ohio's technology economy, today announced that a memorandum of understanding to expand the electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) capacity among four major Northeast Ohio universities has been reached.

NorTech was the primary driver and coordinator of the effort, in which Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, the University of Akron and Kent State University are participating.

The memorandum carries aggressive five-year goals to increase faculty staffing levels by 80 percent and a quadrupling of funding for EECS research. The agreement is a strong acknowledgement by the four universities, NorTech and local business supporters that EECS expertise is vital to Northeast Ohio's economic growth and participation in the global technology economy.

"This is a step of historic proportions," said Joseph P. Keithley, chief executive officer of Keithley Instruments Inc., and vice chairman of NorTech. "A critical mass of EECS capability and research not only will help established companies but also help formation of new ones. It will help drive our economy of tomorrow. It's a win for all involved with electronics in the area."

The EECS memorandum highlights the importance of research funding, faculty staffing levels and educational excellence to the economic growth and vitality of northeast Ohio in any given technology. Despite degrees of success by Northeast Ohio universities in EECS related areas, the region falls short in terms of research funding and faculty levels in comparison to regions with large research universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.), Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.), the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, Calif.) the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.).

"Case believes a strong investment in EECS is critical to the advancement of technology and to the local and national economy," said Robert Savinell, dean of the Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. "At Case Western Reserve University, we have increased EECS faculty by over 25 percent in the past year alone. We are glad to see our colleagues in Northeast Ohio's other EECS departments joining us in these objectives, and in the many collaborations we have with them."

"Right now, there is a very collaborative atmosphere among the universities offering technical education in Northeast Ohio," said Alex De Abreu-Garcia, chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Akron. "State and private universities are working together, which is good for each university, and for the region."

"Northeast Ohio is rich in technologies such as liquid crystals, high level software, advanced control systems and sensors. It makes complete sense to support these technologies by building on our electrical engineering

and computer science resources," said John West, vice president of research at Kent State University.

"This memorandum is very much in line with Cleveland State University's plans for EECS growth as outlined in our EECS 2010 plan," said Charles Alexander, dean of the Fenn College of Engineering at Cleveland State University. "Collaborations with other Northeast Ohio universities are very important to us, particularly in CSU's specialty area of instruments and controls."

Northeast Ohio has a strong base of companies that rely heavily on college graduates with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, including Rockwell Automation Inc., Keithley Instruments Inc., Nordson Corp., ABB Ltd., Parker Hannifin Corp., and Philips Medical Systems, as well as smaller companies like Orbital Research and FLX Micro.

In the memorandum, all four universities expressed support of academic, industry and economic development efforts to improve Northeast Ohio's capabilities in EECS, and outlined how each university will endeavor to support the aggressive 5-year goals set forth.

"In addition to supporting our region's strong instrument, controls and electronics sector, this effort will enable growth of other important Northeast Ohio industries, such as automotive, biomedical devices, nanotechnology and fuel cells," said Dorothy Baunach, president of NorTech. "Computer science is a critical enabling discipline that permeates all aspects of today's science and technology. To better meet the needs of these high-growth sectors, we need to boost our educational and research capacity."

About NorTech

NorTech is an economic development organization, supported by the private sector, focused on Northeast Ohio's technology economy. NorTech works to ensure the economic growth and leadership of Northeast Ohio by promoting technology-based economic development through innovation and entrepreneurism. Learn more at
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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