The Deans' Forum is a strategic response from leading engineering schools to the issues that society is facing in the 21st century. From discussions in 2010 between the Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo and the Head of Research at IBM-Watson about the complex problems that engineering as a discipline has the opportunity to address, and the crucial role that globally leading engineering schools can play now and in the future, the idea of creating a network of several key institutes was born. Our latest meeting was held in spring 2015 in New York at IBM-Watson, with participation from University of Cambridge, the French Grandes Ecoles, Imperial College London, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, UC-Berkeley, the University of Tokyo and IBM-Watson.
The development of sustainable and mutually enriching links between academia and industry has organically become the core topic of the Deans' Forum. Leading engineering schools are uniquely placed to leverage their links with industry, conduct collaborative research that may be beyond the focus of industry alone, and to impact the wider academic arena through symbiotic interactions with industry on issues of engineering education for the 21st century. One example of this mutually beneficial relationship is the creation of Deans' Forum Internships: these are sponsored internships in companies for PhD, master's or undergraduate students from the Deans' Forum institutes. The benefits for industry include gaining access to elite candidates for future employment, working with promising young researchers, and having a direct and focused channel of communication with university laboratories and departments in world-leading schools of engineering. For the universities concerned, they benefit from finding suitable employment locations for their top students, from the transfer of skills and knowledge between academia and industry, and from opportunities to create impact within and beyond the academy.