University Cooperation with the Local Palestinian Industry: Example of the Faculty of Engineering at Birzeit University

Statistical data shows that the Palestinian industrial sectors work at less than 50% of their real capacity, which makes it difficult to create successful industries without cooperating with academic institutions in Palestine. University-Industry cooperation is thus a top priority in the higher education sector and has a specific strategic importance at Birzeit University (BZU).

This is one of the main conclusions presented by Dr. Ahmed Abu Hanieh, Palestinian HERE member, and Dr. Afif Hasan in the concept paper entitled “Cooperation of between the Faculty of Engineering at Birzeit University and the Local Palestinian Industry”. This short article emphasizes the importance of deep and sustained cooperation between the Birzeit University Faculty of Engineering and local industry, and serves as an example of strategic cooperation between academia and the private sector.

The paper describes Birzeit University’s main tools of cooperation with local industry, including the following:

  • Scientific visits and student training in-situ: Four-year students have to undergo six weeks of practical training in local firms or industry, working in the engineering field.
  • Graduation projects: Final year students have to complete a one-year project (five credit hours). The local industry and engineering community can be engaged in selecting or suggesting topics or projects. They can also be part of joint supervision and the final evaluation of student projects.
  • Consultancy: Faculty members can offer consultancy to various companies in their field of expertise.
  • Joint projects: Industry and faculty can formulate and seek funding for joint projects of mutual interest. This may may include development of products, production, training of engineers and technology transfer.

The article also gives a glimpse of the BZU Faculty of Engineering in detail and its cooperation with industry by showcasing two case studies: Cooperation with Jerusalem District Electricity Company and Cooperation with the Nassar Stone and Marble Company.

Finally, the article outlines how BZU intends to establish a contact point in the university in the form of a ‘synergy center’ for cooperation. This contact point aims at strengthening the relations of the university with industry and broadening the possibilities of scientific research that can be funded directly by industry to solve existing industrial problems, instead of depending solely on costly external experts. Another objective of this center is to raise the level of scientific research in the university to international levels, support knowledge exchange between academic staff and local engineers and generate fluid collaboration.

As a conclusion, the authors state that increasing and strengthening BZU industry cooperation can lead to better industrial development by increasing the overall scientific level and productivity of local factories. They note, however, that the development of new laws to facilitate the culture of cooperation between industry and the academy is still needed in Palestine.   

To read the full article, please click here.