International four-way collaboration ready to start

Students from Linköping University (LiU) and Washington State University (WSU) are preparing to participate in an innovative exchange and research programme in engineering science and scientific computation. The project will focus on the computer-based design philosophy that supports the international development of the new T-7A Red Hawk training aircraft from Saab and Boeing.

Lasting three years, this unique four-way collaboration will make it possible for 21 LiU students and 21 WSU students to collaborate for an academic year, split between LiU and WSU. It is hoped that the first exchange can take place in January 2023. The overarching objective of this program is to contribute to graduate internationally educated professionals for leadership in globalised multicultural societies.

Swedish Saab and American Boeing have long histories as strategic partners of LiU and WSU, respectively. They will participate in this programme, which will give students a valuable opportunity to learn how demanding designs can be developed through an international collaboration between multinational companies.

The initiative for the project came from Jan Nordström, professor of computational mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at LiU, together with Joseph Iannelli, professor of mechanical engineering and computational mechanics at WSU. The WSU alumnus Andrew Ross Winters, assistant professor at LiU, will contribute to supervising the students’ projects. The dialogue between LiU and WSU started in 2017, when Joseph Iannelli visited the Valla campus, and the four-way collaboration project is a result of this successful partnership between the two universities.A picture of Jan Nordström and Jospeh Iannelli in front of the building Studenthuset at campus Valla.Jan Nordström and Joseph Iannelli.

“We have worked with WSU and Professor Joseph Iannelli during the past year, performing calculations for aerodynamic applications. This collaboration is of general interest, and can be used in most contexts in which advanced technical development and high precision are required. It is particularly useful in the aerospace industry for companies such as Saab and Boeing,” says Jan Nordström.

Opportunities for students

The participation of Saab and Boeing in the three-year project will offer the students opportunities for site visits, seminars, and project work. The students will gain experience in international collaboration when working together on various projects, and the period they spend abroad will provide a cultural exchange.

Nils Erik Peterson, head engineer for the T-7A at Saab, describes how Saab views the four-way collaboration very positively, since the company is in an intensive phase in which, together with Boeing, it is testing the next generation of training aircraft for the US Air Force.
“Saab has built a factory in the US which is just starting production to satisfy the need for training aircraft from the US Air Force and other customers. Working together, industry and the academic world on both sides of the Atlantic enable us to satisfy and secure the commitment and expertise of current and future co-workers.”
He continues: “Challenges when working across different cultures must always be taken seriously, and this collaboration will give us who are involved additional positive lessons and synergies. It will also help to strengthen Linköping, where both LiU and Saab are located, as Sweden’s centre of aeronautical engineering.” said Nils Erik Peterson.

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) is also involved in the collaboration. Students will be able to share in SMHI’s research into meteorology, oceanography and climatology.

This combination of expertise within the field of study, boundary-crossing international collaboration, and cultural experience will be valuable for the participating students to experience, as several global challenges must be solved jointly by organisations and/or countries in the future, according to the 17 goals in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. 

The four-way collaboration project has received funding from the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education, the National Science Foundation in the US, and the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme.

The US is one of LiU's prioritised geographical regions for international collaboration and is an initiative that started in January 2021.

This article was updated on 4 October 2022.

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