Society of Innovators announces finalists

2013-09-24T06:00:00Z Society of Innovators announces finalistsTimes Staff
September 24, 2013 6:00 am  • 

GARY | Ivy Tech Community College Northwest announced the 2013-14 finalist candidates for Fellows and the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation in The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana.

“These finalists reflect the enormous creativity and innovation across our region,” said Thomas G. Coley, chancellor of Ivy Tech College Northwest. “As The Society approaches our 10th anniversary, we have demonstrated once again that we have selected a stunning group of diverse innovators.”

There are a total of 13 finalists consisting of eight individuals and five teams. Nominations came from Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke Counties. 

All finalists are automatically bestowed honorary membership in The Society of Innovators. Up to six of the individuals will be inducted as Fellows along with up to two Chanute Prize recipients during the ninth annual Innovators Induction Ceremony set for 5:15 p.m. Oct. 17 at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.

Ivy Tech Northwest launched The Society in 2005 through its Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.

Finalist candidates for Fellows include:

  • Julie Bombacino, president, Just Food Blends, Chesterton, is the first to launch a new line of “blended real food meals” for tube-fed people.
  • Mike Falk, CEO and president, Falk PLI Engineering and Surveying, Portage, is the first to introduce advanced surveying instruments called laser trackers and laser scanners in the global steel industry in NWI and beyond.
  • Nina Fonstein, a retired scientist and now consultant, is a world-recognized expert in the development of the “new steels” that are stronger, lighter and more environmentally friendly for ArcelorMittal Global Research and Development Center in East Chicago.
  • Micky Gallas, owner of Micky Gallas Properties and CEO, Tip Tee Toe Golf Shoes, Long Beach, invented and commercialized the first and only wedge sole golf shoe for women.
  • Lisa Hopp, Purdue University Calumet, is founding director of the Indiana Center for Evidenced-Based Nursing Practice, the first in the Midwest as part of a global effort to encourage "best available evidence" in nursing.
  • Don Keller, president and CEO of Tri-State Industries in Hammond, is the first in Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area to launch an integrated system to sell refurbished robots.
  • Stewart McMillan, president of Task Force Tips in Valparaiso, led a transformation in product development by using technology in a new way to involve more employees and distributors globally.
  • Adela Ortega, president of Professional Locomotive Services in East Chicago, established the first independent and privately owned customized locomotive manufacturing and repair facility in NWI in which she initiated spur line connectivity with Canadian National.

Finalist Candidates for the Chanute Prize:

  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore – This is the first of 401 national parks to launch a “Nature in My Neighborhood” program that features a free Nature Play Zone to reach youth in urban communities.
  • Kemin Food Technologies Inc., Des Moines and the Edward Lambert Farms, North Judson – This team uses innovative growing and post-harvest processes for patented spearmint varieties unique to Starke County.
  • Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete, Mokena, Ill., with its Indiana Division in Gary – This company is the first in the Midwest and one of the first in the U.S. to transition its 500 concrete mixers and support vehicles from diesel to natural gas.
  • Community Healthcare System and Fitness Pointe - Take 5 for Life is an elementary school program that targets the rise in childhood obesity in disadvantaged neighborhoods exacerbated by declining fitness programs.
  • Chicago “DODO” Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen Inc. - This provides the first and only monthly Young Eagles Aviation Program in the United States affiliated with the Experimental Aviation Association offering free flights at the Gary/Chicago International Airport to perpetuate the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

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