University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Sandia National Laboratories Kick-off Research Partnership

Program to support collaborations in complex systems, data science, digital manufacturing, and on-demand power

CHAMPAIGN, IL – Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have signed a formal five-year agreement to advance collaboration and information sharing between the Department of Energy’s National Security Lab and one of the world’s premier research universities.

This partnership is aligned around the goals of solving this nation’s big problems, sustaining and engaging human capital, and accelerating the adoption of new technology.

Initial technical focus areas include programs in complex systems and resiliency, data science, digital manufacturing, and on-demand power.

As the research environment changes with the growth in the numbers of university-funded research parks and incubators, evolution of the national lab system, and declining availability of federal research funding, it is clear that a new research development paradigm must be established. This partnership is constructed with this new landscape in mind, with the goal of providing a talent pipeline for new scientists to the national labs, joint national advocacy, and greater technology transfer opportunities.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise said, “We are excited by the potential this partnership presents. With a greater Sandia presence here in Champaign-Urbana and an Illinois presence on the Sandia campus, there will be a two-way street of innovation that fosters the development and actualization of radical new technologies that support future research relationships.”

Dr. Paul Hommert, the director of Sandia National Laboratories, expressed his satisfaction that the agreement was official: "This agreement advances the long-standing partnership that we have with the University of Illinois to a more strategic level and will serve as a model for productive collaborations between Sandia and other national research universities."

This partnership is expected to proceed quickly. The partners plan to significantly increase interactions between the two campuses by spring 2015. The University’s Illinois Applied Research Institute (ARI) will host Sandia at its facility in the University of Illinois Research Park. Likewise, Sandia will provide a University of Illinois Outreach Office on its premises. Sandia’s Campus Executive for the University of Illinois Russ Skocypec said, “As this relationship unfolds, the guiding ideology will be that of a culture of collaboration that propels this country’s research agenda forward.”

In the future, opportunities for joint faculty appointments and for research sabbaticals are expected to further intensify collaborations.

Moreover, to act upon vital national needs, a program that enables classified and compartmented research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be established that will also include combined seed-funding opportunities that follow the National Laboratory Directed Research and Development agenda.

“This partnership will help the University of Illinois establish a firm foothold in emerging technical arenas such as digital manufacturing and data science and it provides Sandia a clear conduit to the technical and human capabilities on this campus. We’re enthusiastically setting a program in forward motion that will help improve national security and commercial opportunities over the coming years,” said ARI Director Jeffrey Binder.

Paul Hommert and Phyllis Wise celebrate the signing of the Sandia/Illinois MOU.

Sandia Director Paul Hommert and University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise celebrate the signing of the MOU.