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Projects could influence region, nation, NDUS chancellor says

GRAND FORKS -- North Dakota University System officials are looking to promote more research and collaboration within the system in key technology areas at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University.

GRAND FORKS -- North Dakota University System officials are looking to promote more research and collaboration within the system in key technology areas at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University.

NexusND is an initiative that would combine three high-tech "pillars"--unmanned aircraft systems, cyber security and high-performance computing--which would create opportunities for regional partnership. UND would take the lead with unmanned systems, NDSU with cybersecurity and the university system on high-performance computing.

NDSU Chancellor Mark Hagerott told the Grand Forks Herald's editorial board Wednesday the initiative is vital to making the system better and more well-rounded, as well as diversifying the state's economy.

Hagerott, who has held numerous leadership positions within the U.S. Navy, likened these partnerships to those in the military, where the most important goal is that the team wins, he said, not the individual.

Hagerott said competition is great, particularly when it comes to athletics, but for research development and economic growth, all of the schools within the system must work together.

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"If the team wins, the state wins, and your school wins with collaboration with other schools," he said. "Of course, with sports, there's a winner and a loser. But if we have a collaborative research project on unmanned systems or whatever, both schools can win."

With these projects, Hagerott said North Dakota, and in particular the Red River Valley, can be a change agent for the region and the entire nation.

Hagerott said he's heard from legislatures in both the eastern and western parts of the state who want to see a more diverse economy that is not as dependent on agriculture and oil. Developing unmanned aircraft systems and other technologies can help that along, he said.

"North Dakota and UND should think big," Hagerott said. "When Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are writing about how this is the Silicon Valley of the north for unmanned systems and technology, we should think big."

One way the system hopes to develop its plans and how collaboration will look well into the future is through Envision 2030, a higher education summit to be held in May where stakeholders will have a conversation about where they want the university system to be when today's preschoolers reach college age.

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