Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and is set to be the giant in the South American economy. When Dilma Rousseff took the oath as new Brazilian President on 1 January 2011, she promised to turn her country’s oil reserves into the passport to its future. National state-controlled oil firm Petrobas has already poured US$700 million into university science and technology programs during the past three years – still more is needed though, if Brazilian research and development is to fully flourish.
Brazil has a poor historic education record and has barely produced enough graduates in the past to be able to mark time. The huge task of transforming over 50 billion barrels of oil held hundreds of kilometers offshore is a task that requires a new generation of researchers and engineers, whose task will be to tap it through a thick subterranean layer of salt.
This is why Petrobas formed a bridge between government and university to create a new link in the chain of knowledge-based economy. In total, it has invested US$2.8 billion in science and technology since 2007. In addition, it has established partnerships with 110 universities, technical institutes and research institutes throughout Brazil that will provide assistance with research and development, and train engineers in the new technologies it needs.
This is an exceptional opportunity to close the loop between education, research and practical application. The head of the new Brazilian Center for Applied Geosciences has gone on record as saying that "With this there will be an improvement in the infrastructure of various scientific and technological segments, which will be positive for academia. It will allow us to be better prepared to respond to the challenges of contemporary Brazil in the coming years."Experts continue to insist that the private sector in Brazil become involved in Brazilian research and development so vital in the chase for oil. When that happens, as it surely must, another loop will close. This time the circle will embrace government, business and economic progress, with universities at the core where they belong. And everyone will gain.