HAMMOND │ Winners of what has been described as “the Nobel Peace Prizes of Northwest Indiana” were announced Thursday with Stewart G. McMillan, of Valparaiso, receiving the Gerald I. Lamkin Fellow Award for Innovation and Service.
Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana honored McMillan, president and CEO of Task Force Tips, at the Innovators ninth annual induction ceremony at Horseshoe Casino.
“This award is given to encourage future dreamers, visionaries and innovators,” said Thomas G. Coley, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and North Central.
The award is named for the president emeritus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, whose dream for 40 years was to establish a comprehensive statewide community college. McMillan was inducted into the Society of Innovators in 2007.
The 2013-14 Class of fellows, Chanute Prize recipients and members have “a spark of ingenuity and the flash of inspiration,” said O’Merrial Butchee, director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center.
In introducing McMillan, Butchee, described him as a “visionary leader” who has led Task Force Tips to become an innovation leader in the water flow industry globally.
“Task Force Tips continues to set the bar for innovation in this industry and is a shining example of American innovative manufacturing competing in a global economy," she said.
In addition to setting industry standards in manufacturing, McMillan supports community activities, is a member of the Valparaiso Rotary, Greater Valparaiso Chamber and is on the Valparaiso Park Foundation. He also is a trustee of Ivy Tech Community College.
The awards recognize innovators from Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke counties.
The Tuskegee Airmen, EAA Young Eagles Program at the Gary/Chicago International Airport was a co-recipient of the Chanute Prize.
Tuskegee Airmen Inc. President Ken Rapier, of the Chicago “DODO” Chapter, said it was an honor to be recognized for the Young Eagles program.
“We like to think that it’s one of the best kept secrets in Northwest Indiana,” he said. “We offer youngsters an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”
Among other recipients was Prompt Ambulance Service for its innovative technology for better patient care. Ron Donahue, director of business development for Prompt Ambulance, said they look at the region as a whole and it’s through innovative technology they’re able to increase patient care.
“It’s interesting we’re an innovator for more of a concept than a product,” he said.
The youngest member to be inducted this year in the society is 16-year-old Joshua DeBoer, of Dyer. DeBoer created an emergency computer repair and service business, Tech 911. He also received a Westwood College scholarship totaling $90,000.
DeBoer is so young he wasn’t allowed in Horseshoe Casino. But he was represented by family members who said he’s “very inventive with everything.”