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MIT and Saudi Aramco augment existing collaboration; more energy research

MIT President Susan Hockfield and Saudi Aramco President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, providing a framework that will greatly expand the research and education partnership between MIT and Saudi Aramco.

Several elements of the MOU have been agreed to for implementation. Saudi Aramco has agreed to become a Founding Member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), raising its participation from its current Sustaining Membership.

This will entail a substantial increase in the scope of research collaboration, encompassing renewable energy; energy efficiency; energy economics; CO2 management and conversion; desalination; advanced materials; and a range of hydrocarbon production areas such as computational reservoir modeling and simulation, geophysics and unconventional gas.

MITEI Founding Members commit to a five-million-dollar-per-year program for a period of five years. Al-Falih also announced Saudi Aramco’s plans to create a satellite R&D center in Cambridge, MA to enhance the research collaboration and facilitate the exchange of researchers.

Saudi Aramco and MIT also have agreed to the terms of an enhancement of the Ibn Khaldun Postdoctoral Fellowship for Saudi Arabian women and to the terms of an engagement with the MIT Venture Mentoring Service aimed at increasing entrepreneurial activity in the Kingdom.

The MOU contemplates extensive additional cooperation in a number of areas:

  • Participation by Saudi Aramco in MIT’s Master of Engineering in Manufacturing program;

  • Collaboration in enhanced pre-college teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through extension of the MIT/BLOSSOMS program;

  • Collaboration in online education;

  • Professional development through customized short courses, and participation in advancing higher education for women in energy engineering fields;

  • Capacity building, including possible job fairs and development of career opportunities in Saudi Arabia for suitable graduates;

  • Entrepreneurship and innovation programs;

  • Professional development and lifelong learning programs, including joint conferences, workshops and technical symposia, and customized short courses; and

  • Cultural exchange and outreach programs involving the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, and the Agha Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

These cooperative efforts will be developed by a high-level MIT–Saudi Aramco steering committee.



From a Green Car perspective this can only be an unfortunate instance of academia selling out to the oil industry. On the other hand should Aramco sincerely look ahead - sponsoring research in alternative energy is important for their future. Since the oil will become more costly to drill and alternatives more competitive.

Let's just hope that this association does not put undue pressure on MIT to lend their IP to Aramco for purposes of better, faster exploration and drilling.

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