Governor Frank O'Bannon recently announced the first grants from the state's new 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, and the funding decisions show that Purdue will play an important role in Indiana's high-technology future.
Of the 172 projects proposed for funding, thirteen, valued at $14.5 million, were approved. Purdue has a role in nine of them, including three in which it is the primary institution.
The 21st Century Fund is one piece in the economic puzzle our state must put together if it is to be a successful player in the global economy. As has been well-documented by various economic studies, Indiana has a strong manufacturing economy that has flourished during the prosperous period of recent years. However, per capita income has been declining relative to other Midwestern states. This is happening because we have fewer jobs in the high-paying high-technology economic sector. There is an urgent need to foster the development and growth of small firms that capitalize on the new knowledge developed through university research. Electronics, biotechnology, plant sciences, and biomedical engineering are just a few of the research areas with the potential to yield huge economic benefits.
I have discussed in earlier letters the efforts to nurture start-up firms in the Purdue Research Park, located on the north edge of West Lafayette. The 21st Century Fund grants will complement these efforts. Several of the Purdue projects to be funded will involve partnerships with other universities in the state, including Ball State, Indiana, Notre Dame, and IUPUI. Private corporations also are participating in a majority of the projects.
This spirit of cooperation among government, higher education, and the corporate sector bodes well for our future if we keep it up and if we continue to build on it. We also have to work on perpetuating the success of our manufacturing and agricultural economies. By bringing the power of research and the spirit of entrepreneurship into the state's economic equation, we can create a bright future for all Hoosiers and motivate our brightest young people to utilize their talents right here in Indiana.
The Purdue Board of Trustees met February 4, and although the agenda was not a long one, it produced some good news for the campus and Greater Lafayette communities. The Board approved a $1.5 million renovation that will nearly double the size of the studios of our two radio stations, WBAA-AM and WBAA-FM, in the Elliott Hall of Music.
The project not only will increase studio space but also will renovate existing offices and work areas. WBAA-AM's programming focuses on news and intellectual issues. It broadcasts a variety of thought-provoking and informative discussion shows, as well as eclectic music performances. The FM station is devoted primarily to classical music. The renovation will create new studios with state-of-the-art sound isolation, noise and vibration control, and acoustics. I'm happy we are able to give this excellent cultural resource the kind of facilities that will help it grow and prosper.
Incidentally, WBAA since March 1 has made its programming available worldwide over the Internet via Webcasting. Internet users can visit WBAA's World Wide Web site and click on buttons to hear the FM or AM station in stereo through their computer speakers.
The Boilermaker men's and women's basketball teams have completed regular-season play with excellent records heading into the NCAA tournament season. Purdue fans are savoring the women's third-straight Big Ten Tournament championship, as well as the news that Gene Keady has garnered Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for a conference-leading seventh time. Kristy Curry's inaugural season proved that she has the skills and intensity needed to be a head coach in the Big Ten, and Coach Keady demonstrated yet again his marvelous ability to get the most out of a team.
I'm looking forward to plenty of excitement before the season ends.