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HAMMOND — Innovations change lives and fuel economic development.

At Thursday’s 13th annual Innovators Induction ceremony at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, in conjunction with Ivy Tech Community College, honored individuals and teams whose ideas and inventions have created change in Northwest Indiana and around the world.

“We are proud to serve our community by discovering these amazing innovators across our region from all walks of life,” said R. Louie Gonzalez, chancellor of the college’s Lake County campus, which includes Ivy Tech facilities in East Chicago, Gary and Crown Point. “We believe anyone can be an innovator.”

O’Merrial Butchee, director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center for Excellence, told guests, “You will be surprised to see the diversity of innovations. Northwest Indiana is evolving with new and changing technology that is going around the world.”

Nominations were submitted from Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke counties, with award winners selected from 12 finalists consisting of five teams and seven individuals.

Purdue University Northwest’s Chenn Q. Zhou, Ph.D., was tapped as the 2017 Gerald I. Lamkin Fellow for Innovation and Service. Zhou was nominated for launching the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium (CIVS). She organized this consortium among steelmakers to advance the beleaguered steel industry by focusing on new technologies, including simulation and visualization.

Other individuals named fellows include the following:

• Teresa A. Eineman, Ed.D., Crown Point Community School Corp. superintendent, led a systems-based approach to turn around what was considered “a stagnant school district”

• Norman-David P. Fischer, chief engineer of The Fischer Group in Crown Point, invented an Energy Efficient Compressed Air Desiccant Dryer.

• Chris Mahlmann, founder, Ideas in Motion Media of Valparaiso, launched a “good news” online company covering Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

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• Michael E. Schrage, chairman, president and CEO of Merrillville-based Centier Bank, transformed a small, family bank that began 122 years ago into the largest bank of deposit in Northwest Indiana and Indiana’s largest private bank.

The Hammond Group Inc. received this year’s highest team award, the Chanute Prize, for its state-of-the-art lead acid battery laboratory. Led by chairman/CEO Terry Murphy, HGI completed the lab in 2015 to work with industry and improve battery re-chargeability and cycle life needed to meet the ever-increasing demands from both auto manufacturers and renewable energy markets.

In 2016, HGI received the Battery Council International’s inaugural global innovation award for their advanced chemistry breakthroughs and industry commitment at the new R&D center on Michigan Street.

The following teams were named recipients of the Leonardo da Vinci Accelerating Greatness Award for Team Innovation:

• The Arconic Power and Propulsion LaPorte Engineering Team, led by Chris Kraynak, director of Structural Operations, pioneered the manufacturing process for a first-of-its-kind, single-piece casting for Pratt & Whitney’s next generation Pure Power Geared Turbofan jet engine.

• The Plate Accelerating Cooling Technology Team is a project of ArcelorMittal Global R&D and Burns Harbor Plate. Both partnered with sister R&D Centers in France to create the first-of-its-kind accelerating cooling technology called ACCtec for steel plate products in the U.S.

Jason Zaideman, the president/founder of Crown Point-based Operation Combat Bikesaver, was among the 20 members of the Class of 2017-2028 honored Thursday.

The nonprofit therapy-based program helps combat veterans and first-responders by teaching them how to build their “dream motorcycle” at no cost, said Zaideman, who is a U.S. Army Engineer veteran.

“We started in October 2015 out of our garage in Cedar Lake,” he said. “One year later we have a couple of hundred members.”

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