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UT Austin program facilitates research collaboration and high-tech recruiting

An industrial affiliates program at The University of Texas at Austin is seeking to encourage more on-campus recruiting and to increase opportunities for research collaboration with members of the computer industry.

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AUSTIN, Texas —An industrial affiliates program at The University of Texas at Austin is seeking to encourage more on-campus recruiting and to increase opportunities for research collaboration with members of the computer industry.

The program, Friends of Computer Science (FoCS), is sponsored by the UT Austin department of computer sciences. It was created in response to the speedy growth of the high-tech industry and the fact that recruiters are confronted with an increasing number of high-tech job vacancies nationwide.

The program sponsors special gatherings that build community and showcase work in computer science to create effective, enduring relationships between students, faculty and industry representatives.

“Companies that belong to FoCS have many opportunities to network with high-performing students and faculty,” said Steve Thomas, coordinator of external affairs for the UT department of computer sciences. “Collaboration and cooperation with industry have become increasingly necessary and beneficial for our academic and research programs.”

Austin-based National Instruments is one of the program’s newest members, contributing $15,000 in annual dues.

“UT is our foremost recruiting school,” said Duncan Hudson, group manager for research and development at National Instruments. “We believe that there is significant opportunity between National Instruments and the computer science department at UT for joint research and development.”

“UT is a critical, critical school for us,” said Mark Finger, vice president for human resources at National Instruments. “As we take a look at the graduates we’ve hired and the research we’ve gained from UT, this is our chance to give something back. It can’t be just a one-way street. We see it as a partnership. We’re looking to build a clock vs. just telling time. It’s a win-win situation.”

Specific benefits to corporate members include increased campus exposure through underwriting opportunities of student and faculty meetings, seminars and events such as the Computer Science Spring Open House, the Friends of Computer Science Honors Reception and the Technology Leaders Lecture Series. Further tailored campus visibility and deeper involvement with the department is offered to companies who become Strategic Partners.

“FoCS is a foundation to support the tremendous growth of our department as well as to serve a vehicle to sustain our expanding interactions with industry,” said Thomas.

Member dues range from $500 to $15,000, depending on the number of employees in a company, or alumni and individual memberships with annual donations starting at $50. Dues are frequently directed toward scholarships and fellowships for students, travel support to present scientific papers and start-up equipment for new researchers. Large equipment grants or other donations targeted at specific departmental needs can be used as membership dues.

Current members of FoCS include Intel, Sun, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM, Novell, Microsoft, Tivoli, Schlumberger, MCI Foundation, Inet Technologies, Motorola, Shell, Lucent Foundation, National Instruments, Nortel, GTE, MCC, Innosoft International, ExxonMobil, eCertain, MULTEK-Austin, NGPL, Texaco, El Paso Energy Foundation, Kodosky Foundation, EDS, HBK Investments, SCO, Compaq, Sprint, Andersen Consulting, Applied Computing Systems, AudioGalaxy Inc., Reactivity and The Austin Software Council.

Dr. Benjamin Kuipers, chairman of the UT Austin department of computer sciences, created FoCS in 1998. The program welcomes members from business and industry, alumni and individuals who are interested in furthering the UT department of computer sciences’ missions to create new knowledge in computer science, educate computing professionals and teach computing skills to students in other disciplines.

The UT Austin department of computer sciences is ranked seventh nationwide among all colleges and universities by the National Academy of Sciences and is rated second among all public universities. The department was established in 1966 as a graduate department and added undergraduate majors in 1974.

NOTE: For more information, contact Stephen R. Thomas, coordinator for external affairs, UT Austin department of computer sciences, (512) 471-9533 or srthomas@cs.utexas.edu Website: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/focs