Purdue Strengths Harnessed to Benefit Northern Indiana

By: Contributor Last Updated: March 15, 2010

To help meet the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's goal of creating more effective and efficient roles for the state's regional university campuses, Purdue has announced an initiative to harness the capacity of its campuses to better support higher education and to power economic development across northern Indiana.

"Each of our regional universities plays a unique role in educating Indiana residents and developing projects that enhance local efforts to modernize and diversify key industries," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "We're planning a concerted effort to grow the economy of northern Indiana through education, technology development and research that is specific to the economic strengths of those communities."

The Northern Indiana Corridor effort would make use of university academics and research in high-tech ventures - including packaging, wireless technologies, electric vehicles and other "new economy" foundations - to bolster the economy. The initiative also would support more collaboration among Purdue University Calumet, Purdue University North Central and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and Purdue University's West Lafayette campus.

The effort would share faculty expertise, facilities and research activity across the four campuses and reduce duplication, allowing the universities to better serve local needs while linking Purdue's intellectual capital across the region. The four universities would also work with Ivy Tech and other colleges on work force development and transfer programs.

"This action taken by Purdue University signals a strong commitment to ensuring efficiency and quality throughout the Purdue system and to supporting economic development across northern Indiana," said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana commissioner for higher education. "The commission commends President Córdova and Purdue leadership for placing a priority on college completion and work force opportunity."

Purdue's regional campuses already have significantly increased efforts to support area industries and economic development.

Purdue North Central has helped create a conservancy district to attract new businesses. The campus also has been active in fostering cooperative economic development efforts in LaPorte County among Michigan City, LaPorte and the county.

IPFW shares in a $20 million grant in northeast Indiana to improve the competiveness of the area's defense industries. The program, Talent Opportunity Success (TOpS) 2015, seeks to better prepare the region's work force to capture high-quality job opportunities. The project enhances collaboration among IPFW, Ivy Tech and area schools.

Purdue Calumet's mechatronics engineering technology laboratory has partnered with 16 companies to improve teaching and provides hands-on support for Calumet's bachelor's degree program, which prepares technologists to design, build and service the complex, high-speed machinery used in the fast-growing packaging industry. Purdue Calumet's Water Institute also is working Argonne National Laboratory and BP to reduce ammonia and heavy metal discharges into Lake Michigan, and its Center for Innovation in Visualization and Simulation is working with local manufacturing industry to solve processing problems.

IPFW also hosts the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center and Purdue Calumet staffs the Hammond Innovation Center and partners with a Purdue Technology Center in Merrillville.

Córdova said efforts to improve regional campus effectiveness will be led by incoming Purdue Provost Tim Sands, who starts April 1. Sands and the regional campus chancellors will appoint a task force to look at a core curriculum across the regional campuses, improve retention and graduation rates, and look for ways to help more people take advantage of regional campus assets, including work force and economic development programs.