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The general problem of research in the university environment is outlined with specific reference to research in the area of computer control of systems. An approach is presented based on experience with the industrially supported research program at Case Western Reserve University in the control of complex systems. The paper is organized around five aspects of the Case program as follows: 1) definition of scope, research direction, and overall objectives; 2) relationship with students: how a typical study is formulated and carried out; 3) relationship with sponsors: funding and two-way information flow; 4) relationship with the University: the Systems Research Center provides motivation, administrative support, and facilities for interdisciplinary activity; 5) historical development. A specific case history is presented to illustrate some of the above points and, in particular, show how the program has evolved along new directions in response to inputs from members of the group and from the outside community.