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Newly-formed University of Alabama director role to strengthen industry partnerships

The University of Alabama has established a new director role within its Office for Research and Economic Development (ORED) aimed at developing partnerships with industry.

According to UA, the newly-created position will serve to leverage the university’s research to assist with industrial technology and workforce needs. The university recently announced that Dr. Patrick Mendez will serve as UA’s first director of strategic research partnerships and consortiums.

Mendez brings more than a decade of experience in project management and providing organizations with long-term, innovative solutions while influencing research strategy.

In his prior role, Mendez served as strategy and capture manager at the Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. in California. His work consisted of designing and executing processes to translate technology innovations into high-impact strategic partnerships with the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and other federal agencies.

The director will begin his work focusing on water, transportation and life sciences. According to the university’s announcement, the role is part of a five-year strategic plan to develop strong partnerships with external stakeholders.

The position will have a heavy focus on industry, with the dual goal of increasing the number of sponsored projects while creating career opportunities for UA students through those partnerships.

Dr. Russell J. Mumper, vice president for research and economic development, asserted that the position would serve to advance opportunities for UA students and alumni.

“ORED’s ambition is for UA to become the ‘go to’ university for industry,” noted Mumper. “We seek to accomplish this by developing and maintaining sustainable partnerships, and by offering solutions to solve complex problems. These activities will create more opportunities to recruit and retain students and alumni in the state.”

The university hopes that combining research and innovation on campus with industry sectors will lead to job creation and growth through existing and start-up enterprises. The long-term ambition is to will enhance Alabama’s ability to attract industries, UA advised.

Dan Blakley, associate vice president for economic and business engagement, indicated that Mendez would enable the university to further expand its growth in the field of research and economic development.

“The research and economic development enterprise at UA has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years. This growth has been fueled by enhanced engagement with external partners, especially industry, that share a common vision for economic progress across the state of Alabama,” said Blakley. “I’m thrilled that Patrick is joining our team at this time of unprecedented growth and opportunity to further support the creation of external partnerships that lead to transformational impacts for Alabama. Patrick’s background and experience will be a tremendous asset to UA as we launch this initiative.”

David Palmore is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News

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