A programme of research collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan – which grew out of a scholarship programme founded in the 1960s between Magdalene College and Michigan – was celebrated at a recent event in Cambridge.

Genuine partnerships between universities can have a transformational effect on students’ lives and open up new, important fields of innovation and discovery

Richard Prager

The Michigan-Cambridge Research Initiative (MCRI) is supporting collaborative research projects at both universities, including engineering solutions to prevent head injuries in sport, improved battery reliability, and new approaches to metals recycling. This is the second year of the programme, which brings together engineers and scientists at all stages of their careers, enabling the exchange of ideas at all levels.

The MCRI is built on the foundations of the Power Exchange Scholarship Programme, which supported more than 50 students from Cambridge and Michigan over three decades starting in the late 1960s, fostering a culture of collaboration between the two universities.

The Programme was supported by Eugene Power, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College and alumnus of both universities. Former Power Scholars include Lord Howard Flight, former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.

Now, through the MCRI, Cambridge and Michigan are incorporating the type of collaboration and exchange exemplified by the Power Scholars Programme into their current relationship. The MCRI provides a formal mechanism and funding to encourage collaborations between the two universities, as well as support to develop partnerships and share expertise.

Richard Prager, Head of Cambridge University Engineering Department, has been involved in the MCRI initiative since 2017. He said “collaborative links like this contribute to our strengths in both research and education. Genuine partnerships between universities can have a transformational effect on students’ lives and open up new, important fields of innovation and discovery.”

As the MCRI develops, both universities hope to create a Research Scholarship Programme to enable doctoral student exchange between the two institutions in key research areas, primarily in engineering and computer science, amongst other initiatives.

“We are pleased to reinvigorate this transatlantic relationship between two of the world's leading universities and the Power Scholars programme,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.

“Eugene Power was an innovator and entrepreneur and this Michigan-Cambridge Research Initiative carries on the legacy of the Power Scholars. It develops a practical platform for collaborative efforts between our students, faculty, and external partners for transformative solutions to problems with global impact.”

Earlier this year, nine of the Power Scholars returned to Cambridge for a dinner at Magdalene College, which hosted many of the students from the original Power Exchange Scholarship Programme. Attendees heard from senior academics from both universities about the partnership, and two Power Scholars, Lord Howard Flight and Dr Christine Martin, spoke to celebrate the renewal of the collaboration between Michigan and Cambridge.

“I was most fortunate to be selected as a Power Scholar attending the Michigan Business School in 1969-71, and my MBA has stood me in good stead throughout my career,” said Lord Flight. “I am most grateful to Eugene Power for financing the Power Scholarship and pleased to be able to make the first capital contribution to the new Cambridge - Michigan programme.”

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