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U of M & Medtronic Announce New Partnership for Unique Programs
For release: Dec. 5. 2006
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The University of Memphis and Medtronic have joined forces to provide real world learning experiences for undergraduate students through two new programs.  Funded by a $250,000 gift from Medtronic, the Medtronic Team Challenge and the Medtronic Research Fellowship will provide undergraduate students at the University of Memphis a taste of what it’s like to engage in team-based work or mentored research in a real-world, corporate setting.  Both represent programs the University would like to replicate with other area employers.   

During each academic semester for the next three years, teams of three or four junior and senior students from various majors will work on challenges identified by senior management as those critical to Medtronic’s business interests.  Medtronic Team Challenge students will draw on their different areas of expertise to analyze and recommend solutions to the issue at hand under the supervision of Medtronic leaders and a University faculty mentor.  The stakes are high, with students treated as consultants and expected to deliver findings and recommendations to members of the Medtronic management team at the end of their work. 

The Medtronic Summer Research Fellowship program will provide a similar real-world experience for undergraduates interested in research careers.  Each summer for the next three years, four students will work with Medtronic research staff and a faculty coach to conduct research projects typically reserved for graduate students or paid professionals.

“This type of mentored research is particularly important for undergraduate students who have far fewer opportunities to gain real-world research experience that do graduate students, said Melinda Jones, director of the University’s Honors Program.

“The University of Memphis is particularly excited about this partnership,” said U of M President Shirley Raines, “because it represents several firsts in our partnership with the musculoskeletal industry:  our first, corporately sponsored undergraduate research program; our first, team-based work experience in a medical device corporation; and our first, large-scale partnership with Medtronic.” 

According to Medtronic’s Spinal and Biologic’s business president, Pete Wehrly, “This partnership is both a way for Medtronic to help the university prepare its students for today’s work world and an opportunity for Medtronic to have sets of fresh, unbiased eyes evaluate the issues we face.  We are proud to support the University of Memphis in this way.”

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