HAMMOND | A Purdue University Calumet alumnus and corporate manufacturing leader has made a substantial financial gift to his alma mater to advance development of a university manufacturing center.
David A. Roberts, Chairman, President and CEO of Carlisle Companies Inc., and his wife, Susan, provided the gift. Carlisle Companies also plans to contribute to the prospective manufacturing center, which will be housed in Purdue Calumet’s emerging commercialization center at 7116 Indianapolis Blvd., three blocks west of campus.
Roberts is a 1974 Purdue Calumet baccalaureate degree graduate and former Steger, Ill. resident. His Charlotte, N.C.-based, diversified, international manufacturing company generates $3.6 billion in net sales and employs approximately 12,000 people worldwide. Carlisle’s four divisions serve broad niche markets, including commercial roofing, aerospace and defense electronics, energy, agriculture, mining, construction, food service and health care products.
“We much appreciate and thank Dave and Susan for their generous gift and the vision they share with Purdue Calumet of wanting to establish a manufacturing center near campus,” Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas L. Keon said. “Dave has achieved great success and respect as a corporate manufacturing leader. This gift demonstrates a desire to give back in ways that further manufacturing in the United States.”
Roberts attended Purdue Calumet in the early 1970s after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. While attending Purdue Calumet as a full time student, he held various industrial engineering and manufacturing management positions at the former Gary plant of The Budd Company, now ThyssenKrupp Budd.
His career continued at Pitney Bowes of Stamford, CT, The Marmon Group in Chicago, Graco of Minneapolis and Carlisle Companies. He attributes his career success to having applied his Purdue education to diverse and challenging manufacturing, engineering and management opportunities. A strong advocate of U.S.-based manufacturing, he implemented Lean-Six Segment manufacturing techniques at Carlisle, which has bucked the trend of pushing manufacturing off-shore by moving three factories back to the U.S. from Asia over the past 24 months.
“My wife, Susan, and I hope that our donation to Purdue Calumet will help in some small way to enhance the manufacturing capability of the United States,” Roberts said. “This great country of ours became a world power because of our creativity and manufacturing capability over the past century. For the United States to maintain that leadership position, we need schools like Purdue University Calumet to educate and train the next generation of engineers, engineering managers, manufacturing managers and executives who are willing to work in factories throughout the United States.
“Without them, our creativity and manufacturing know-how will be lost to other countries, making the United States the service capital of the world. Without high paying manufacturing jobs, our standard of living will reflect that of a service economy. I encourage other fellow alumni to donate whatever they can to help make the (Purdue Calumet) manufacturing center a reality.”
On the heels of previously announced university plans to establish a commercialization center as a venue for helping bring new business ideas to market, Keon envisions Purdue Calumet’s pending manufacturing center becoming a springboard to enhancing regional economic development by fostering new manufacturing opportunities in the greater northwest Indiana area.
“What we hope to address with such a center goes beyond the traditional manufacturing of our region,” Keon said. “Purdue Calumet aspires to become a leader in providing and developing cutting edge training, problem solving opportunities for business partners and leadership in new, emerging manufacturing industries.”
Through its College of Technology and Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation, Purdue Calumet has been providing education and training in such new and emerging fields as mechatronics and 3-D simulation.