Asee peer logo

Sabbatical Leaves with Industry - Three Experiences

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1351.1 - 26.1351.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robert G. Batson P.E. University of Alabama

visit author page

Bob Batson is a professor of construction engineering at The University of Alabama. His Ph.D. training was in operations research, and he has developed expertise in applied statistics over the past thirty years. He currently teaches the required courses in project management, safety engineering, engineering management, and engineering statistics within the undergraduate programs of the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Department, and graduate courses in operations research and supply chain management. His research interests include project risk management, quality management, supply chain management, maintenance management, and safety management. Since joining the University in 1984 he has held research contracts and grants worth over $2.4M, with organizations such as Mercedes-Benz, American Cast Iron Pipe Company, BellSouth, NSF, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, Army Aviation and Missile Command, and Alabama DOT. He served as Head of the Department of Industrial Engineering during 1994-99 and 2005-2010. He also was Director of the IE Design Clinic from 1998-2010, directing senior design projects with local industrial and service organizations.

Bob has published over 140 articles, chapters in textbooks, and technical reports, many in the area of process planning and improvement, and has been an invited speaker or panelist at numerous technical symposia. He is co-author of the textbook Applied Integer Programming, published by Wiley in 2010.

From 1979-84, Bob was a senior operations research analyst with Lockheed Corporation. At Lockheed, he worked in conceptual and preliminary design of aircraft and missiles, performing mission effectiveness, cost, and risk analysis. He received a Ph.D. in Mathematics and an M.S.I.E. from Alabama in 1979, and a B.S. in Mathematics/Physics from Alabama in 1972. Since 1996, Bob has been a Registered Professional Engineer in quality engineering in the State of California. He is past-president of the ASEE Southeastern Section. He is past-Chairman of the Birmingham Section of the American Society for Quality, an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, an ASQ Certified Reliability Engineer, and was elected Fellow of ASQ in 1996. He is a senior member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, received the IIE Aerospace Division Award in 1989, is Past-President of the Birmingham Chapter of IIE, and has served IIE as an ABET Program Evaluator for the past fifteen years.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Sabbatical Leaves with Industry: Three ExperiencesOne approach to developing and strengthening relationships between universities and industry isto have tenured faculty members engage in one-to-two semester sabbatical leaves at an industrysite. Personal relationships between the faculty member and managers/engineers at the host siteare developed; follow-on contracts and publishable results often benefit the faculty visitor;introductions to other faculty members with specific expertise can benefit the industrial host.In contrast, most sabbatical leaves involve leaves of absence for an extended visit to anotheracademic institution or a government laboratory. The intent is often to collaborate with a hostresearcher or team, to utilize specialized facilities (libraries, equipment), or perhaps to develop anew research interest. If one is funded, it is usually a grant and the researcher has extensivelatitude in what activities to pursue. Publication of research is a secondary goal, and involvementof graduate students is generally not considered.The author participated in three sabbatical leaves with industry during the 21 years 1990-2010:the first two for an entire academic year (9 months) with half salary & benefits paid by thecompany, and half paid by the university; the third leave for one semester with a industrymember group, fully paid for by the university. In all three leaves, travel and housing expenseswere not included because the location of the sabbatical leave site was within one-hourcommuting distance of campus. The main objectives of each sabbatical leave will be discussed,and included training of managers and engineers in areas of faculty expertise, coordinating andfacilitating improvement teams, learning new areas through reading and observing, andpreparing course materials in these areas.Results were:  Funded contracts worth $246,000 with the two industrial companies, split almost evenly between the sabbatical leave contract and follow-on contracts.  Courses developed after sabbatical ended, for example graduate-level courses in quality engineering, supply chain modeling, and safety engineering.  Eighteen refereed publications related to the sabbaticals, split almost evenly between journal and proceedings articles.  Five MS Non-thesis Research Project Reports (in lieu of master’s thesis).  Three faculty colleagues were introduced to and funded by one of the sabbatical leave hosts.  Contacts at the three organizations to meet various university needs: Contacts for co-op, intern, and permanent job opportunities; contacts for senior design projects with industry; contacts for guest speakers to class or student society meetings.The conclusion is that in general, the host company/institution must see some benefit in thesabbatical leave experience, in order for contracts to be awarded; however, for a one-semesteruniversity-funded visit, there is little or no expectation that the faculty visitor will activelyparticipate in the work of the organization. The payoff in terms of funding, course development,publications, involvement of student and faculty colleagues, and industrial contacts can besatisfying to both the faculty member and his administrators. The recommendation is to considersabbaticals with industry in order to provide a boost to one’s career at important intervals, asdocumented here.

Batson, R. G. (2015, June), Sabbatical Leaves with Industry - Three Experiences Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24688

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015