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Indiana business leaders align to support focused engineering programs at IU

  • April 23, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Several of Indiana’s top business and industry leaders have joined together to lend their support and guidance to Indiana University as the institution moves to establish engineering degree programs at the Bloomington campus.  

The IU Bloomington Engineering Advocacy and Advisory Board, chaired by Cook Group chairman Steve Ferguson, is forming to assist the university in its efforts to establish new engineering degree programs, focused primarily around intelligent systems disciplines, in preparation for the fall 2016 academic semester.  

Last week, the Trustees of Indiana University passed a resolution endorsing the establishment of a new general engineering degree program at the bachelor's level, as well as a doctoral program. The degree proposals now go to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for approval.

"The establishment of these new engineering degree programs is critically important to ensuring the continuing vitality of enterprises such as Cook, but more broadly the economic vibrancy of southwest central Indiana," Ferguson said. “IU Bloomington is perfectly positioned to provide these essential programs that build directly on current campus strengths and will result in a pipeline of talented young professionals and create significant opportunities for collaborations with industry in the region.”

A study by the Batelle Technology Partnership Practice released in late 2014 identified the lack of engineering and applied technology programs at IU Bloomington as a serious threat to the economic future of the region. Specifically, the study noted that the “lack of an engineering or applied technology connection point with IU Bloomington makes it more difficult for regional manufacturers to find avenues in which to engage the university.”

In response to the Batelle study, IU President Michael A. McRobbie established a faculty committee, chaired by School of Informatics and Computing Dean Bobby Schnabel, to more fully assess and consider the prospect of establishing engineering degree programs. The committee recommended the university move ahead with a focused intelligent systems engineering program, which will be housed in the School of Informatics and Computing, to best leverage IU’s strengths in this rapidly growing discipline.

The conclusions of the faculty committee were endorsed by a blue ribbon committee of external academic experts, chaired by former University of Michigan President James Duderstadt, to further review and assess IU's capabilities relative to establishing an engineering program.

In recommending that IU start an engineering program, the committee noted that IU Bloomington was at a disadvantage compared to the other leading research institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities, all of which offer some form of engineering study.

“In an increasingly technology-driven world, a research university simply cannot be comprehensive without a significant engineering program any more than it can meet contemporary needs without other professional schools such as law, business and education,” the committee members wrote.

Joining Ferguson are business and industry leaders from multiple sectors, including:

  • David Becker, president and CEO, First Internet Bank
  • Brian Blackwell, director of engagement, Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane
  • Don Brown, president and CEO, Interactive Intelligence
  • Scott Dorsey, chairman, TinderBox
  • Tim Hassinger, president and CEO, Dow AgroSciences
  • Craig Neal Jones, personnel director, GM Powertrain, Bedford
  • John C. Lechleiter, chairman, president and CEO, Eli Lilly and Co.
  • Ray Niehaus, director, Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing, Vincennes University Jasper
  • Alisa Wright, CEO, BioConvergence

In his remarks to IU Trustees last week recommending their approval for the first two engineering degree programs, McRobbie noted the role IU must continue to play as an engine for economic growth in Indiana and how engineering will support that mission.

“As the economy becomes more technologically dependent, it is imperative that Indiana University Bloomington develop a culture of building and making if it is to reach its full potential as a research university and fully contribute to economic development in the state,” McRobbie said. “Key to such a culture is engineering.”

The board will provide ongoing advice and counsel to academic leaders associated with the creation of the engineering program to help ensure alignment with the needs of industry in the state.

“We are extremely gratified to have the support of many of the state’s most talented and respected business leaders as we begin our work to develop engineering programs at IU Bloomington,” McRobbie said. “Their contributions will be invaluable as we strive to design degree tracks that will be attractive to future students and serve the economic needs of the state of Indiana.”

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Media Contacts

Mark Land

Associate vice president, IU Communications