Education, Knowledge, and Innovation in Science and Engineering

Keys to America’s Future
Campus Center Theater
Indianapolis, Indiana
November 19, 2013


Prompted by a letter from members of the United States Congress, the National Research Council of the National Academies issued an excellent report last year, titled Research Universities and the Future of America. The report began by recognizing the fundamental role of research universities in the nation’s long-term prosperity.

The report states that “America is driven by innovation—advances in ideas, products, and processes that create new industries and jobs, spur economic growth and support a high standard of living, and achieve national goals for defense, health, and energy. In the last half-century,” the report continues, “innovation, in turn, has been increasingly driven by educated people and the knowledge they produce. Our nation’s primary source of both new knowledge and graduates with advanced skills continues to be its research universities.”1

Today, on the IUPUI campus—and on IU’s and Purdue’s other campuses across the state—faculty, students, and staff are engaged in path-breaking education and research. 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.

Facilities To Support Education And Research

Last month, I delivered my annual State of the University address, my seventh such address as president of IU. In the address, I reiterated the fact that new, expanded, and renovated facilities to support IU’s central missions of education and research remain among the central priorities of the university.

Such facilities are critical to help recruit and retain the best faculty and researchers, to ensure that IU remains competitive in research and scholarship, and to help provide a high quality living and educational environment for IU students—on all campuses. Numerous studies showed that IU had fallen behind its Big Ten and other peers in the amount and functionality of its research and academic space.

In fact, a study of the research space needs of the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses that I commissioned when I was a Vice President for Research stated that we would need about 5 million square feet of space at IU over the next ten to twenty years. That is space equivalent to more than 20 buildings the size of the Campus Center in which we are currently assembled.

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 additional research space have been developed for the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses. And we have already made great progress in addressing the research space shortage across the university, with the construction of buildings that include IUPUI’s Walther Hall and the Health Information and Translational Sciences Building.

The Science And Engineering Laboratory Building

The magnificent building we dedicate today is an essential step in further addressing this shortage of research and laboratory space.

In fact, the provision of such facilities is the “duty and responsibility” of Indiana University under the agreement that established the campus.

As we dedicate the Science and Engineering Laboratory Building, we celebrate the first non-medical science building to open on the IUPUI campus in 20 years.

The research and education that will take place in the new facility will lead to innovative new ideas, and, potentially, to the transfer of additional technologies that will enhance our standard of living and our quality of life.

Of course, a spirit of multi-disciplinary collaboration thrives between the scientists who will be housed in the new building and their colleagues across the IUPUI campus, especially in the health sciences and with the IU School of Medicine. In a moment, Chancellor Bantz will say more about the ways in which this spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration will flourish in the new building.

Special Thanks

Every project like the one we dedicate today requires a great team that collaborates on the many details that ultimately come together. I want to commend Chancellor Bantz; Simon Rhodes, Dean of the School of Science, David Russomanno, Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology; as well as the many members of the faculty and staff of both schools who have helped to make this ambitious vision a reality.

I also want to commend Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison as well as the many design and construction professionals, both internal and external, who contributed to this project.

And finally, I want to commend Ali Jafari, professor of Computer and Information Technology and the director of Cyberlab in the School of Engineering and Technology. Many of you know that Dr. Jafari and his team created Oncourse, the online course management system now used across all eight Indiana University campuses.

Dr. Jafari and his former graduate student, David Mills, also created a commercial course management system called ANGEL. In 2000, they worked with the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation to create a for-profit company called ANGEL Learning, Inc.—to market the course management system around the world.

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.

I believe Dr. Jafari is here this afternoon. Would you join me in thanking him for his leadership of an endeavor that helped make possible the building we dedicate today?

Conclusion:  The Keys To America’s Future

The National Research Council report, to which I referred earlier, concluded with these words: 

“A decade into the 21st century, a resurgent America must stimulate its economy, address new threats, and position itself in a competitive world transformed by technology, global competitiveness, and geopolitical change. In this milieu, educated people, the knowledge they produce, and the innovation and entrepreneurial skills they posses, particularly in the fields of science and engineering, have become the keys to America’s future.”2

With the dedication of the Science and Engineering Laboratory Building, we forge a new set of keys that will be an important part of that future—keys that will open doors for the next generation of scientists and scholars.

The world-class teaching and research that will be the hallmarks of this new building will undoubtedly lead to new innovations that will contribute further to the intellectual, cultural, and economic vitality of the state, the nation, and the world.

Source Notes

  1. National Research Council of the National Academies, Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security, (The National Academies Press, 2012), 1

  2. Ibid. 180.