HAMMOND | Innovation will fuel economic development in the entire Calumet area, and universities are the epicenter for that creativity and economic boost, said Purdue University Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon at Thursday’s Celebrating Innovation day at the Hammond campus.
The Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation facility in the Powers Building was the focus of kudos from the Society of Innovators.
Nineteen CIVS members received the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation presented annually by Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and The Society of Innovators. Co-recipient is NIPSCO.
“Innovations are driven by two things – dreams and visions, challenges and roadblocks,” said Ralph Rogers, PUC vice chancellor for academic affairs and himself an engineer.
“Challenges and roadblocks and constraints are when someone throws the gauntlet down. The status quo is just not acceptable to innovators,” Rogers said.
He praised Chenn Zhou, the CIVS director, who is a professor and interim associate vice chancellor for research and graduate studies.
When she came to Purdue University Calumet from Carnegie Mellon, Chenn Zhou was told she couldn’t do the kind of simulation and visualization research she wanted to do at the Hammond campus.
“She put her work into a computer and began to solve problems. She pushed the envelope when others said that’s not what we do,” Rogers said in introducing Chenn Zhou. “Today we are celebrating what can be achieved by ignoring the naysayers.’
O’Merrial Butchee, the Director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at Ivy Tech said the PUC facility is a model for CIVS for the nation. “This CIVS is setting the standards," Butchee said.
Receiving the award stems from “a firm, deep and continuous encouragement of innovation, and an important commitment to the future,” said Cal Bellamy, senior partner with Krieg DeVault, who sponsors the Chanute Prize. “Innovation is how the quality of life will improve, how employment will improve and how all life in Northwest Indiana will improve.”
Engineering graduate student Nick Walla, of Portage, told those gathered that the CIVS facilities and staff give students hands-on training in real projects that provide unparalled experience.
“This is as good or better than an internship,” said the 25-year old,who received a mechanical engineering degree from PUC in 2010. “Here we have internships with the support and structure of an educational institute.”