Purdue Cal center puts research on different plane

2011-10-22T00:00:00Z 2011-10-23T00:00:09Z Purdue Cal center puts research on different planeBy Bowdeya Tweh bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Even the ribbon cutting was done in the third dimension.

Purdue University Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon wore 3-D glasses with about 75 audience members Friday morning and watched a simulation of scissors cutting a ribbon signifying the next stage in the growth of one of the university's smart shops.

The university held a ceremony and open house to commemorate the new, expanded location for the Center for Innovation Through Visualization and Simulation. The applied center uses simulation technology to model real phenomena and visualization technology to create three-dimensional images and virtual reality environments.

"(CIVS) is truly a great example of where we are and where we need to go," Keon said. "In many ways, this is the future of Purdue Calumet."

Program director and mechanical engineering professor Chenn Zhou said the center has been able to develop as a result of the research and problem-solving partnerships formed with some of the region's largest employers such as United States Steel Corp., ArcelorMittal, and Northern Indiana Public Service Co. Since the center's formation in March 2009, Zhou said the projects have saved employers at least $30 million in savings and cost avoidance.

Don Babcock, director of economic development at NIPSCO, said the center helped the utility save $1.9 million annually by helping identify how boiler exhaust air ducts could operate more efficiently at the Bailly Generating Station. By saving the company money, that has helped create electricity bill savings -- albeit a small amount -- for customers.

"This place is a game changer and we need (more) game changers in Northwest Indiana," Babcock said.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Daniel Hasler called the CIVS center a crown jewel and is part of the "incredible product" that can be pitched to attract businesses to the Hoosier state.

"This is bait for me," Hasler said. "You are bait for me. And I love fishing with good bait."

Bin Wu, a PUC research engineer and 2008 university graduate, said the center attracts students from a variety of disciplines to work on various projects.

Moving into the larger space in the Powers Building will help expand research and educational opportunities for students and project team members, Zhou said.

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