Though Jack Hu has been involved with the Business Engagement Center (BEC) since participating in the exploratory committee that developed BEC a decade ago, he is only looking forward.
When he does, Hu sees the future of corporate engagement, and it is full of diversification. “After years of declining federal funding, industry has stepped in to fill a very critical gap. I see this trend continuing and see opportunity for industry – both domestic and international – to connect with U-M for comprehensive student support and dynamic research,” Hu says.
He highlights the BEC’s successful corporate engagement model in two very different examples: “The Ford Motor Company sets the standard for corporate partnership. Ford’s century-old history of research and philanthropy has culminated in significant collaborative partnerships like The Ford Motor Company Robotics Building. The close interaction between Ford and U-M allows these connections to happen and to flourish.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Hu states, “Mcity is a whole different level of corporate engagement. There, we brought 63 companies together in a collaborative space. The BEC played a key role in developing the consortium and recruiting our leadership and affiliate level partners.”
Part of the BEC’s success is “maintaining the garden.” He shares, “We are keeping the grass green. We need to continue to engage with companies – have regular, broad outreach to keep those connections and provide opportunity for our faculty and students and a pipeline to talent for industry.”
The other side of industry engagement is the exciting edge of incredible advancement: “Over the last few years, we have created significant interdisciplinary research initiatives – Mcity, Data Science, Exercise and Sport Science Initiative (ESSI) , Poverty Solutions, and Precision Health. With each new initiative, we want to partner for research and philanthropy with industry.”
And there are very broad applications. “These initiatives require an interdisciplinary approach. Take autonomous cars, for example. We need engineering research, to be sure, but there are so many other disciplines involved: policy, psychology, law, machine learning, data science, kinesiology, design. The vast collaboration between our faculty extends to our corporate partners as well. Working together, we all benefit tremendously.”
About Jack Hu
Serving as the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan, Jack Hu began his career at U-M in 2009 as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering.
In his current role, Hu has overall responsibility for nurturing the excellence and integrity of research across the entire U-M campus. He oversees the U-M Office of Research, which fosters interdisciplinary research and provides a range of services in support of research and innovation across all three campuses.
More about Jack Hu can be found here.