IBM / Notre Dame Collaboration

See how Notre Dame and IBM have worked together to engage in innovative research and leadership development programs.  

"The relationship between IBM and Notre Dame has been strong for decades with recruiting, support of research, donations of computers, graduate fellowships, numerous guest speakers and young faculty awards being some of the ways the two institutions have worked together. Both institutions strive to be leaders through the pursuit and application of knowledge with high-caliber personnel. IBM and Notre Dame working together is a win-win scenario for both institutions.” - Dr. Robert Dunn, former IBM employee and current Notre Dame faculty member and managing director of the MIND Institute

IBM and Notre Dame have enjoyed an integral 25 year collaboration. Based on excellent relationships of Notre Dame faculty and administration with alumni and parents such as Patrick A. Toole, IBM Senior Vice President and Group Executive in the 1980s and 1990s as well as dedicated members of senior leadership within IBM, the results have been exemplary. Committed recruiting teams, creative science and technical discovery, and innovation programming on the international stage are just a few of the noteworthy outcomes of this holistic partnership.

IBM’s deep research strength in computing and information processing resulted in sponsoring the Midwest Institute for Nano-Electronics Discovery (MIND) at Notre Dame in 2008.  MIND is focused on finding the successor technology to the silicon-based computer chip and is heavily funded by a consortium of semiconductor companies led by IBM. This initiative was led by Dr. John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice President and Director, IBM Research, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Bernhard, Notre Dame Vice President of Research, and Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, Dean of the Notre Dame College of Engineering.

The MIND initiative is making strides towards faster, cooler computing power with Notre Dame and IBM working alongside a host of regional universities and semi-conductor corporations. Dr. Robert Dunn, who launched the IBM manufacturing site in Ireland during his 35-year IBM career, is now a professor at Notre Dame and managing director of the MIND Institute. He writes:

“The relationship between IBM and Notre Dame has been strong for decades with recruiting, support of research, donations of computers, graduate fellowships, numerous guest speakers and young faculty awards being some of the ways the two institutions have worked together. Both institutions strive to be leaders through the pursuit and application of knowledge with high-caliber personnel. IBM and Notre Dame working together is a win-win scenario for both institutions.”

IBM has also led to innovative programs at Notre Dame to increase its employer brand with potential interns and full-time hires. One such example is IBM Global Internship Program in 2010. In the first year of the program, seven Notre Dame students interned in Beijing for eight weeks in the IBM China Research Laboratory (CRL). Students from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Mendoza College of Business worked alongside IBM researchers to tackle questions of global warming, Beijing traffic congestion, and more. This past summer, the initiative expanded to include students from other Universities as well as an additional IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland and was wildly popular among students. 

In April 2011, IBM’s Smarter Planet Comes to You initiative visited the Notre Dame campus for a day-long IBM event that drew 100 Notre Dame students from various majors. The activities included a scavenger hunt, skills zone and prizes for winning teams.  The themes of smarter cities and skills development how future career choices will be impacted by today’s global IT culture. 

IBM also presented the IBM Smarter Plant Faculty Innovation Award to Associate Professional Specialist Suzanne Coshow and the entire faculty team of the course, Foresight in Business and Society. Under the leadership of Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, Professor Coshow and her colleagues launched a course that is shaping students to think holistically about business opportunities in the context of social and environmental world trends.  IBM was integral in developing the partnership program for the course by providing mentors to student research teams and volunteering senior IBM leadership to deliver the keynote talk for the public poster presentation event. 

Professor Coshow writes,

“One of the reasons IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative in particular is a great opportunity for us is that it requires cross-boundary, cross-function, cross-system collaboration and understanding, which is more than anything what the Foresight course accomplishes,” said Coshow. “We want our students to appreciate the big picture.”

Collaboration on the Foresight course is yet another example of Notre Dame and IBM working together to advance the greater good.  Of their involvement with this course, Jim Corgel, General Manager ISV and Developer Relations, says:

“We need to focus on developing more advanced skills so that students around the world are equipped to tackle real-world issues when they enter the workforce.  The work of the IBM award recipients should help change the face of education by enabling students to work on pressing issues facing cities today – and at the same time prepare them for leadership in industries like health care and transportation.”

Many IBM executives continue to work actively with Notre Dame, including serving on University Advisory Councils, allowing the relationship to evolve and advance the missions of both institutions. The activities between IBM and Notre Dame are recognized beyond the executive leadership at IBM, as proven by the fact that IBM has the highest matching gift contribution at Notre Dame.