U awarded $6.1M to establish institute

The Petroleum Institute has awarded the University a $6.1 million grant.

The University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science has partnered with the Petroleum Institute, located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to establish the Abu Dhabi-Minnesota Institute for Research Excellence (ADMIRE), according to a statement released Tuesday. The Institute awarded the University a $6.1 million grant to be used over the next three years. The grantâÄôs purpose is to promote joint research projects between the two institutions and to foster the continued development of Petroleum Institute academic programs, specifically programs in chemical engineering and materials science and engineering, the press release states. Jeffrey Derby, University chemical engineering and materials science professor and director of the ADMIRE program, said the grant is going to support stipends for graduate students and post-docs, as well as faculty effort to further the activities in this project. Derby said the research is organized into four broad areas: hydrocarbon processing, modeling and simulation, polymer processing and materials science. He mentioned, however, that the collaboration is not just research, but also focuses on educational issues. Provost and Acting President Michael Ohadi of the Institute has been working for the Institute since fall 2003. He said the benefits that will result from this partnership will help the Institute with their strategic goal of educating and developing the future technological leaders for Abu Dhabi and the country as a whole. Ohadi graduated from the University in 1986 with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. Ohadi said the Institute was created in 2001. There are currently 1,000 undergraduate and close to 50 graduate students enrolled at the Institute, according to the InstituteâÄôs website. Ohadi said the Institute opened with the mission to deliver two promises of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. He said the first promise is to become a top-ranked engineering university with a special focus on the education of UAE nationals. The second is to educate future technological leaders who can meet the requirement of their sponsors in the oil/gas and broader energy industry. âÄúWe are committed to delivering both promises,âÄù Ohadi said. Derby said this partnership will bring benefits to both the University and the Institute. âÄúWhenever we can get new resources to do interesting, ground-breaking research, thatâÄôs always a big plus,âÄù Derby said. âÄúBut thereâÄôs another thing that is even more interesting than that: that we are really trying to help this institution become better in the world.âÄù Ohadi said about 15 to 20 faculty members from each institution will be involved in the research. He said each project has an investigator from the University and at least one co-investigator at the Institute. The idea is to build on each otherâÄôs capacity, Ohadi said. Some work is done at the University and some at the Institute. He said graduate students on these projects can be co-advised by the faculty at the University and on the Institute side, though it is not a requirement for the projects. âÄúHaving this close collaboration with this institution in Abu Dhabi just extends our reach further in the world,âÄù Derby said.