Seven of the world's top technological universities have come together to form the Global Alliance of Technological Universities. The Alliance brings together these leading engineering-based universities in the belief that one of the best ways to address global societal issues is through the joint and concerted development of technological solutions based on top class research in science and technology.

"Grand Challenges" identified by the Alliance include biomedicine and health care, sustainability and global environmental change, security of energy, water and food supplies, security, and changing demographics/ population.

The seven founding universities from Asia, Europe and North America came together on 7 April 2009, at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to formalise the set up of the Alliance. An inaugural forum was also held where senior representatives of the Alliance discussed the role of technological universities in the 21st Century. The event was graced by Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), as the guest-of-honour.

Members of the Alliance include the California Institute of Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, Imperial College London and Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Z├╝rich (The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) (Zurich ETH) in Europe, and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Shanghai Jiaotong University and NTU in Asia.

Dr Su Guaning, NTU President, said that the the Alliance will adopt an interdisciplinary and cross-boundary approach to address the issues of global concern by developing avenues for solutions through research collaboration and exchange.

"There is a strong external focus. The member institutions are linked by a belief that technology can make a difference in providing solutions to world problems; and by a desire to be active participants in the development of those solutions for the betterment of mankind," says Dr Su

The Alliance held its first meeting at NTU on 6 April 2009 and elected Dr Su as the first Chairman of the Alliance for a 2-year term.

The Alliance intends to provide a collective academic and technological voice giving impetus to the international community to take action. The target groups include international government bodies and organisations, local and international academic institutions and the international media.

The framework of the Alliance allows individual groups from the various universities to hold periodic meetings, where each meeting will be hosted by one of the universities, in their own country. Individual groups from the various universities working on specific projects may meet more frequently depending on the needs of these projects.

The secretariat function will be rotated among the seven universities. NTU is the secretariat for the Alliance from 2009 to 2011.

As a sign of close and forward looking relations between member institutions of the Alliance, NTU and Imperial College London yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which paves the way for a joint PhD degree programme. This collaboration is also a milestone for both NTU and Imperial College as this is the first time that they are offering a joint PhD programme with a partner university. The joint PhD programme will begin with programmes in bioengineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering. The tentative date for the initial intake is January 2010.

Source:
Hisham Hambari
Nanyang Technological University

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