CALL TO ACTION
Investing in the Next Generation
Today's undergraduates are becoming tomorrow's scientists at Discovery Park. Kelley Krizek has had that good fortune. Sharing microscopes with distinguished faculty in organic chemistry and biomedical engineering at Bindley Bioscience Center, she worked alongside researchers to tame brain seizures at the molecular level. A new scholarship program opened the door.
"It was an opportunity I won't soon forget," Krizek said. "The excitement is palpable as people from very different areas compare notes and brainstorm to develop new approaches to solving complex riddles that can change lives."
Finding solutions to this nation's grand challenges in health care, energy, the environment, cancer, life sciences, nanotechnology, and homeland security, however, will take a revolution. Academia, industry, community, and government must come together for this nation to achieve global leadership in discovery, learning, and engagement.
Discovery Park is Leading the Way.
"Purdue's friends, strategic partners, and policy makers have joined us on this journey to create a culture of innovation through Discovery Park. But this is just the beginning," said Alan Rebar, executive director of Discovery Park.
A critical factor in the success of Discovery Park is its nimble and flexible environments. Researchers can respond and facilities can be reconfigured to take on evolving challenges and opportunities.
Students, faculty, and friends also are key players in a world that demands a better prepared employee for the workforce, a more dynamic mechanism to get research to the marketplace faster, and stronger United States research institutions to compete in the global fields of science and technology:
• More than 1,000 Purdue faculty and researchers are working on projects as diverse as nanotechnology, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, health-care engineering, entrepreneurism, alternative energy, cancer research, homeland security, and information technology.
• Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students are participating in certificate programs, business-plan competitions, poster sessions, and research endeavors year-round at the park.
• Corporations are forming strategic alliances with park centers, seeking research and partnerships that will hone their competitive edge.
• Purdue's alumni and friends have seen the park's potential and are contributing to build the facilities, buy the equipment, and fund administrative infrastructure.
Discovery Park also has been a magnet for the University's success in reaching for its $1.5 billion Campaign for Purdue goal. Five of the 10 largest financial gifts to Purdue since the University was established in 1869 involved Discovery Park, including the biggest gift ever — $52.5 million from 1962 Purdue graduate William E. Bindley.
Bindley, who founded the Fortune 200 pharmaceutical distribution company Bindley Western Industries Inc., donated $45 million to Purdue to fund endowments for faculty chairs, student scholarships and fellowships, and academic programs. He asked that the remaining $7.5 million be used to help build the $15 million Bindley Bioscience Center.
"Purdue has been a leader for years in the life sciences and biosciences fields, and I knew that the most advanced facilities would ensure we remained out front," said Bindley, who now is chairman and CEO of the private equity firm Bindley Capital Partners LLC. "I also knew that an environment like Discovery Park, where researchers could come together from different parts of campus, would have lasting impact on Purdue and the nation."
But not everyone can afford to give $1 million, $10 million, or $100 million.
For $500 a semester, the Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship program provides a Purdue undergraduate student like Krizek the opportunity to experience the park's innovative approach to solving the nation's grand challenges.
Discovery Park also has created more formal opportunities to engage alumni, corporations, and thought leaders. It's bringing them together to discuss ideas, research, and questions that face our world today:
• Through conferences, workshops, and lectures, Purdue is bringing to campus experts to discuss critical science and technology issues in a public forum. The inaugural Discovery Lecture Series in February 2006 focused on nanotechnology and gained global attention. A summit in August 2006 tackled national security and policy issues surrounding U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Others have brought Nobel laureates to campus.
• Through the annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition, business leaders and alumni from across the country come to campus to help judge business plans of young entrepreneurs and students.
"In the corporate world, companies must adapt and evolve — or die," said Joe Pekny, director of the e-Enterprise Center and Purdue professor of chemical engineering. "Just as in those corporations, we [at Purdue] must change, too. We're reshaping the future of Purdue, of Indiana, and of our nation to be competitive globally."
Rebar said the park's researchers from disciplines as disparate as mathematics, engineering, chemistry, pharmacy, agriculture, and the liberal arts are coming together. This is a necessity, he added, because today's research is far more complex, and the challenges are much greater.
"We are generating more sponsored research that tackles critical topics such as energy, health care, nanoscale research, and information technology," Rebar said. "But to succeed long term, we need partners in this grand adventure. If the overwhelming support we've already received is a predictor, the future is very promising."