Innovation Design Center named for Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., in recognition of leadership gift

May 15, 2015  

Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr.

Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - On Friday (May 15) the Purdue Board of Trustees approved naming the Innovation Design Center – a student projects facility scheduled to open in 2017 – for Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., in recognition of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation’s leadership gift toward the $18.5 million building.

The Bechtel Innovation Design Center will promote collaboration, creativity, teamwork, problem-solving and management skills in engineering and technology students as they brainstorm, plan and execute capstone design projects and student-led projects.

“This will be an inspiring facility for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders,” said Bechtel, chairman emeritus of the Bechtel Group Inc., who received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue in 1946 and an honorary doctorate in 1972. “As a dedicated space for student innovators, it will help place Purdue at the forefront of engineering and technology education and equip students for success in the dynamic, project-oriented environment of the professional world.”

The facility will be located at Third and Russell streets in the student success corridor, where students live and study, and will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Featuring design and prototyping studios, open workspaces, labs, and “magnet spaces” that draw students together, the center will provide for short-term to multi-year activities and support an array of design projects ranging from building solar and electric vehicles to constructing prototype energy-efficient homes to designing bridges, accessible playgrounds and robots.

An advocate for strengthening U.S. technological and economic competitiveness, Bechtel has made a number of significant investments through the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation in Purdue to foster educational innovation in engineering. Those investments helped launch Purdue’s School of Engineering Education, the world’s first academic program in the discipline; the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE), which studies engineering thought and practice among pre-college students; and the Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Laboratory, which provides an experiential, collaborative learning environment for all first-year engineering students at Purdue.

“We at Purdue are inspired by the life of this truly legendary Purdue graduate, and we are proud to honor both Dr. Bechtel’s accomplishments and his generosity by naming the Innovation Design Center for him,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “This center will be the nation’s finest such home for student collaboration outside traditional academic boundaries - a hub of entrepreneurship, ideation and design for Purdue’s next generation of leaders.”

In addition to college students, the Bechtel Innovation Design Center will engage K-12 students in hands-on engineering design projects through summer programs offered by the Minority Engineering Program and Women in Engineering Program.

A nationally prominent engineer and business leader, Bechtel was named president of Bechtel Group in 1960 and became chairman in 1973. He served under Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford in six federal appointments, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1975, and served as its first chairman from 1982-86. He has been honored by the American Association of Engineering Societies with the 1982 Chair's Award, the 1997 National Engineering Award and the 2003 Kenneth Andrew Roe Award. He has received many other awards, including the 1999 Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering, the 1991 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the 1980 Herbert Hoover Medal.

Source: Amy Noah, vice president for development, 

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