IBM - Notre Dame Global Internship Program

IBM Research and the University of Notre Dame partnered to launch a new Global Internship Program during the summer of 2010 in Beijing, China.  The concept of the program was initially developed in a July 2009 meeting between senior IBM leaders including Dr. John Kelly, IBM SVP & Director of Research and University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Robert Bernhard, Vice President for Research and Thomas Burish, University Provost.

The broad goals for the program, from the Notre Dame perspective, included the following:

  1. Facilitate collaboration between IBM Research and Notre Dame, especially in the areas of research shared by both;
  2.  Build a sustainable bridge of research sharing and potential collaboration between faculty at Notre Dame and researchers at IBM Research Beijing;
  3. Provide ND graduate students with the opportunity to pursue and apply their research in a new environment and explore future collaboration;
  4. Provide exceptional ND undergraduate (and to some degree, graduate) students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills and receive “real world” work experience in an international corporate environment;
  5. Provide ND undergraduate (and to some degree, graduate) students with the opportunity to gain valuable inter-cultural skills and enhance the understanding of China—one of the most important countries in the world;
  6. Serve IBM Research’s objectives for the program; develop a collaborative partnership to evaluate and improve upon these objectives;

The reports from students, faculty, and mentors indicate success on all fronts.  For example, students noted that the internship was an exceptional opportunity for them educationally, professionally, and culturally.  They gave significant praise to IBM mentors for being invested in managing and mentoring them as well as matching projects to their skills and interests. Comments from IBM indicate that the program contributed new solutions which were beneficial to various software applications and project teams.

"Under the guidance of my mentor, I submitted my first patent application and worked out a post-internship collaboration proposal to continue the work at IBM after I return to the U.S.  The established long-term research collaboration relationship will help me with my independent research activities as I work toward graduation. IBM research also benefits from the cooperation as we bring both research vision and theoretical algorithms to their current and future projects. As more industrial researchers are realizing that working on long-term research problems is probably as important as short-term profits on products, the win-win model benefits both IBM and the University of Notre Dame." - Notre Dame Graduate Student, Global Intern

Since the successful implementation of the global internship program in 2010 with Notre Dame, IBM has expanded the program by adding additional facilities and inviting other universities to participate.