Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Science and Engineering Laboratory Building
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
March 28, 2012
Jonathan Cole, Provost Emeritus of Columbia University writes in his book, The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected:
“Although certain key players in our history have had the vision and energy to lay the foundation for our great universities, it is the thousands of scientists, scholars, and administrators who have been dedicated to their work on a daily basis that have truly put our universities at the top. Their ambition to excel and their fierce competitiveness to be ‘the best’ have led American research universities to become the engine of our prosperity.”
Cole goes on to enumerate some of the many vital contributions of research universities.
“The laser, magnetic resonance imaging, FM radio, the algorithm for Google searches, Global Positioning Systems, DNA fingerprinting, fetal monitoring, scientific cattle breeding, and advanced methods of surveying public opinion all had their origins in America’s research universities,” he writes, “as did tens of thousands of other inventions, devices, medical miracles, and ideas that have transformed the world. In the future,” Cole writes, virtually every new industry will depend on research conducted at America’s universities.”1
The importance of our universities’ research endeavors is abundantly evident in the state of Indiana.
Today, faculty on the IUPUI campus—and on IU’s and Purdue’s other campuses across the state—engage in path-breaking education and research activities that contribute extensively to the intellectual, cultural, social, and economic vitality of the state. Their research helps to create jobs and produce new technologies; it bolsters the university’s national standing and competiveness; it produces enhanced understanding and more meaningful experience; and it generates a better quality of life for citizens of Indiana and the nation.
The Vital Need for Research Space
But if great public universities like IU and Purdue are to continue to conduct the vital research that transforms our world and enhances our lives, then faculty and students must have the facilities and the space to support learning and research.
In my former role as Vice President for Research, I appointed a committee to conduct a thorough study of the research space needs of the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses. The study, completed in 2004, noted that lack of space “… represents possibly the biggest single impediment to IU reaching its full potential as a research university.”2 The report stated that we would need about 5 million square feet of space—that is space equivalent to more than 20 buildings the size of IUPUI’s four-story Campus Center—over the next ten to twenty years.
The School of Engineering and Technology and the School of Science here at IUPUI—two schools that have experienced impressive growth—were estimated to be about 100,000 square feet short of laboratory research space.
Comprehensive Master Plans that take into account the long-term need for research space in more detail have been developed for the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses.
We have already made great progress in addressing the research space shortage across the university, with the construction of Simon Hall and the Multidisciplinary Science Building II (MSB II) in Bloomington, and Walther Hall and the Health Information and Translational Sciences Building here at IUPUI.
And the building for which we break ground today is an essential step in further addressing the shortage of research and laboratory space.
The Science and Engineering Laboratory Building will be the first non-medical science building to open on the Indianapolis campus in 20 years. The Science Building, which will be connected to the new building, was constructed in 1992.
The building’s first phase will provide 81,500 gross square feet of space—space that will help our faculty to increase their competitiveness for external funding in key areas.
The building will also assist the School of Science and the School of Engineering and Technology in recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty.
And the work done in this building will lead to the development of new ideas, new innovations, and potential new technologies.
That same spirit of innovation has helped to make the Science and Engineering Laboratory Building possible, as some of the proceeds from the sale of a successful university start-up company are being used for the construction of the facility.
ANGEL Learning was a coursework management company founded by IUPUI professor Ali Jafari and his graduate student David Mills. Dr. Jafari is a professor of Computer and Information Technology and the director of Cyberlab in the School of Engineering and Technology. He and his team also created OnCourse, the online course management system used across all eight of Indiana University’s campuses.
ANGEL Learning grew to include some 200 programmers, analysts, and sales and marketing personnel. The company’s tremendous success was made possible, in part, by the strategic investments in Information Technology made by IU over the last decade and by the investment made in the company through the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation.
ANGEL Learning was sold in 2009 to Blackboard, Inc., an educational software provider based in Washington, D.C. IU’s share of the proceeds were distributed under the university’s intellectual property policy, with a total of $7 million being invested in the Science and Engineering Laboratory Building.
The research and education that will take place in this facility will lead to innovative new ideas, and, potentially, to the transfer of additional technologies that will contribute further to the intellectual, cultural and economic vitality of the state.
A Space for Collaboration
The Science and Engineering Research Building is also a facility that has been designed to foster collaboration. Shared research and lab space will give the School of Science and the School of Engineering and Technology opportunities to work together on cutting-edge projects.
Today, more than ever, collaboration is at the heart of discovery. We must, then, provide for our scientists and scholars spaces that enable them to engage in collaborative, multi-disciplinary activity. The Science and Engineering Laboratory Building will be just such a space.
Of course, collaboration between the scientists who will be housed in this building and others thrives on the IUPUI campus, particularly in the health sciences and with the IU School of Medicine.
An Investment in the Future
In The Great American University, Jonathan Cole writes that
“It is the quality of the research produced, and the system that invests in and trains young people to be leading scientists and scholars, that distinguishes (our universities) and makes them the envy of the world.”3
The Science and Engineering Laboratory Building is an important component of that system. It is an investment in the young people who will become the next generation of scientists and scholars. It enhances our ability to conduct world-class research and to provide excellent education for all of our students.
We look forward to the quality research that will result from the efforts of the gifted faculty who will call the building home. Their research and their dedication to solving problems will undoubtedly lead to new innovations that enhance our standard of living and our quality of life.
As we gather today to celebrate this new facility, I commend all those on the campus whose efforts are helping to make the building a reality. I look forward to celebrating the impact of facility on the campus and to commemorating the many achievements that are yet to come.
- Jonathan R. Cole, The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence Its Indispensable National Role Why It Must Be Protected, Volume 1 of 2, (Perseus Books Group, 2009).
- Research Space Task Forces of IUB and IUPUI. “Indiana University’s Need for Research Space: A Report to the Vice President for Research and University Architect.” Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.
- Cole, p. 5.