UBC has been pro-active in integrating non-academic internships into its academic programs. The Science and Applied Science Faculties, and the Sauder School already have a good track record in this direction, through the traditional Coop programs for undergraduate students. More recently, UBC has elected to host, partner with, and support the MITACS network, which is leading a paradigm shift on the national level, in graduate training and in technology and knowledge transfer.
The MITACS modus operandi for the implementation of such a program relies on a pro-active and intensive process of initiating and supporting large numbers of research linkages between Canada’s graduate and postgraduates and the non-academic sectors. Their secret is to invest in human resources by recruiting a national army of “Business Development Officers” who are totally dedicated to identifying and nurturing such linkages.
Indeed, MITACS-Accelerate is a national internship program that connects companies and other organizations with the research expertise in Canada’s universities from applied sciences, engineering, social sciences and business to arts, and life sciences. It is run in partnership with a consortium of leading Canadian research organizations.
How does it work?
The conduit between the partner company and the university is a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow under the guidance of a professor.
The intern is supposed to bring a new perspective and the latest knowledge to a research challenge faced by the partner. Internship projects can be undertaken in a wide range of areas including manufacturing, technical innovation, business processes, IT, social sciences, design and much more.
During a MITACS-Accelerate internship, the intern spends approximately half of his/her time over a minimum four-month period on site with the partner, gaining a better understanding of the research issue in question and collecting data. The balance of the intern’s time is spent at the university, further advancing the research under the guidance of a faculty supervisor.
For each four-month internship unit, the company contributes $7,500 which is matched by MITACS through the support of federal and provincial funding partners. Longer projects are possible as multiples of 4-month internships and simply require more funding from the partner company.
Per four month unit, the intern receives a minimum stipend of $10,000 with the remaining $5,000 supporting other costs associated with the research.
MITACS is now committed to building this program towards 10,000 internships annually across the country with 1,000 at UBC. A remarkable feat!