A new University of Michigan fellowship program designed to prepare 300 students to take on the challenge of solving global sustainability problems is the latest initiative geared to creating a climate of technological innovation in the state.
Technology company Dow Chemical Co. is donating $10 million to the University of Michigan over six years to create a Sustainability Fellows Program, the company announced to an audience at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.
"The uniqueness of this program is that it is not rooted in any one discipline or any single unit of the university -- it is as broad and comprehensive as the subject matter itself," said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. "And that is, frankly, the only way to solve problems as pervasive as those we face in sustainability."
Coleman referred to Michigan as a perfect climate to work on sustainability, but also stressed the importance of creating an environment to encourage science and technology education and interest among younger students. She mentioned the Engineering Society of Detroit's job fair held the same day in Novi, where employers are looking to fill 4,000 open positions, according to CBS Detroit.
"Companies in Michigan have not been able to fill these jobs because there are not enough engineers prepared in this state," Coleman said.
In Monday's announcement, Coleman and Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris explained they were looking to create leaders who could attack sustainability from all angles, whether working in research, business or public policy.
The program will be for master's, doctoral and postdoctoral students who will jump right into problem-solving, competing for awards to support sustainability solutions.
"An important part of the fellowship is an increased [ability] to take on risks," said Berry Kennedy, a student in the U-M Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise MBA/MS program who spoke on Monday. "Sustainability is all about innovation."