Editor's note: The following release was distributed earlier today by the Office of the Governor of Oregon.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gov. Ted Kulongoski, the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHE), Oregon State University (OSU), and the Michael Scott Mater Foundation (MSMF) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to implement partnerships that will support the development of sustainable engineering curricula, expansion of research lab capacity, promotion of international student and faculty exchanges, and other sustainability efforts at Iraq's public colleges of engineering. 

This is the first MOU or similar agreement of any of the United States with Iraq. 

"Iraq is one of many middle east countries challenged with water, agriculture, and infrastructure problems - and what is applied in one nation can be expanded for application in surrounding nations," Governor Ted Kulongoski said.  "Equally important in this partnership is that Oregon engineering students will get hands-on experience in learning how to apply sustainable engineering design in geographic places and in conditions they normally would not have the opportunity to learn about."

The agreement establishes a five year implementation plan for meeting the goals of the Minister's new National Education Program in Sustainable Engineering (NEPSE) in Iraq to develop curriculums, establish communication channels, student and faculty exchange programs, and collaborative research targets with focus on sustainable engineering discipline/curriculum areas.

Inclusive in the NEPSE is the mandate to expand the base of coordination between the Iraqi universities, specialized governmental sectors, and the private sector to implement sustainable engineering education, research, and outreach in all aspects of the nation's rebuild efforts, including but not limited to building and infrastructure design and (re)construction, agricultural development, natural resource use, water use, and all aspects of renewable energy.  This includes sustainable engineering curriculum development and testing lab expansions within the 23 engineering universities throughout Iraq, collaborative research between Iraq and Oregon institutions of higher education, scholar and faculty training exchanges at OSU, applications of Oregon innovative sustainable Engineering technologies in Iraq, and Iraq university demonstration projects essential to rebuilding Iraq.

"The fact that sustainable engineering practices developed at OSU are being spread to 23 campuses throughout Iraq is tremendously gratifying, both in that those practices will be helpful in rebuilding efforts throughout the country and that our faculty and students will be able to work alongside Iraqi colleagues to our mutual benefit," said Edward J. Ray, president of OSU. "I'm humbled that Oregon State University is part of this unprecedented agreement, and look forward to the dividends it will pay for all of the partners and all of those we serve for many years to come."

This agreement builds upon the work that OSU and MSMF have been doing directly with the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education for over a year on a major Iraqi-led initiative to grow the country's capacity for applying green building and sustainable agriculture technologies to the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure.  The Governor helped foster this partnership when he invited engineering faculty from Iraq's universities to visit Oregon and attend workshops at OSU in 2009.

Specifically, the MOU will support efforts led by OSU and MSMF to assist students and faculty from the 23 Iraqi public institutions of higher education, including:

  • Identifying approximately 200 post-graduate and PhD scholars from Iraq to study engineering at OSU each year;
  • Creating on-going Iraqi faculty testing lab training rotations to OSU;
  • Expanding engineering testing lab equipment and training at OSU engineering labs and Iraqi universities engineering labs to establish an international learning loop in sustainable engineering;
  • Introducing new high tech green technology being developed in Oregon into the rebuild of the Iraq nation via testing sites established at Iraq universities. 

In August of 2009, OSU hosted the top engineering faculty from Iraq to come to Oregon and spend two weeks of hands-on training in sustainable engineering and green built design.  Funding for that initial effort was provided by Oregon BEST with additional funding from the Department of State to bring the Iraqi faculty to Oregon.

In May of 2010, the Director of sustainability for the OSU college of Engineering and the Founder of the MSM Foundation were invited to Baghdad directly as guests of the Iraqi government. The MOU is a direct result of a coalition of those Iraqi engineering faculty members who came to Oregon in 2009 and who again met in May 2010 in Baghdad.

To read the MOU, click here.

For more information on the Michael Scott Mader Foundation, click here

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