April 19, 2018

International electric power leader SEL to build 100,000-square-foot facility, create up to 300 new jobs in Purdue Discovery Park District

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Ed and Beatriz Schweitzer gifts and investment generate surge for Purdue electrical engineering, research at Purdue University, electric power research and development facility

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. and PULLMAN, Wash. – Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) announces plans to build a 100,000-square-foot facility for electric power research in the Purdue Discovery Park District designed to support up to 300 new high-tech jobs.

In addition, Purdue alumnus Edmund O. Schweitzer III, and his wife, Beatriz Schweitzer, will donate funds to support the pipeline of innovation at Purdue, with $1.5 million going to the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering or ECE to endow a professorship, and another $1.5 million to support the school’s power and energy systems research area.

The SEL corporate expansion, called SEL Purdue, will conduct electric power research and development in the new facility. The space is designed to hold up to 300 employees; the numbers and types of employees will increase as the company’s business needs evolve and grow.

“We are excited to establish a larger presence in the Midwest,” said Schweitzer, who is the founder of the 100 percent employee-owned Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. “The Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue Airport, is a convenient location for our business aviation needs and company's future expansion. This new facility will enable us to enhance the service we provide to our customers in the area, and we will benefit from the proximity to Purdue by both research and the talent pool the university provides. There is a high demand for power engineering, and this initiative will help us meet those demands.”

The SEL Purdue building will be built on 10 acres of a 20-acre plot on the northwest corner of U.S. 231 and Newman Road, near the new Rolls-Royce facility in West Lafayette. Groundbreaking for SEL Purdue is expected to take place this summer. The site is designed to hold a second building depending on company growth and needs.

"Here in Indiana, we're committed to making our state a hub for innovation and a magnet for jobs," Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said. "Working with one of Indiana's leading universities, SEL will continue to advance breakthrough technologies that support electric power grids around the world. We look forward to watching the company succeed, grow and provide more great jobs for Hoosiers."

“This is the breakthrough moment we’ve hoped for in making the Discovery Park District dream real. High-quality jobs and internships for our students; new research opportunities for our faculty; and new homebuyers and customers for the residential and retail components,” Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said. “Greater Lafayette can become one of the high-tech economic centers of the country, with the Discovery Park District at its core.”

The $1 billion Discovery Park District is a 30-year plan to transform the west side of the Purdue University campus.

“The SEL Purdue announcement, combined with the Discovery Park District master plan and Convergence building announced earlier this week, are clear indicators of the economic growth and quality of life advancements that can be anticipated in the coming years through the rapid developments taking place at Purdue and surrounding areas,” West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said. 

“Greater Lafayette is poised to become one of the high-tech centers of the country, with the Discovery Park District as its core,” said Gary Henriott, chair of Wabash Heartland Innovation Network. “I believe we have the right leadership and resources to make it happen.”

A Northbrook, Illinois, native, Schweitzer earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1968 and 1971.

“Purdue, of course, is dear to me and my family. My grandfather, the first Edmund Schweitzer, earned his degree in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1898,” Ed Schweitzer said. “Supporting education is important to Bea and me, and we’re pleased our gifts to Purdue will provide current and future students with the educational and life skills needed for future success. And, with SEL Purdue there is no doubt that many will become SEL employees.”

The Purdue School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is one of the largest in the United States and is consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally. 

“It is the generosity of alumni and friends like Ed and Beatriz Schweitzer that makes Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering what it is today by supporting the outstanding research and educational opportunities we provide for students,” said Venkataramanan Balakrishnan, the Michael and Katherine Birck Head and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “In particular, ECE’s power and energy systems faculty and students will benefit greatly from philanthropic funding and research connections made possible by the university’s partnership with SEL. We are grateful to Ed and Beatriz and are delighted to be forever connected with the Schweitzer name in such a fitting way.”  

About Edmund O. Schweitzer III

Edmund O. Schweitzer III earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue’s electrical engineering in 1968 and 1971. He started his business in the basement of his Pullman, Washington home. In 1982, he left Washington State University, where he had earned his Ph.D. and served as a professor, to devote his efforts full time to growing the Pullman-based company into a leading designer and manufacturer of digital relays for the protection, monitoring, automation and control of electric power systems. Nearly every utility in North America uses SEL products, which can also be found in industrial and commercial power applications in 162 countries. SEL is also one of the region’s largest employers, with more than 5,200 employees worldwide. Schweitzer holds the grade of Fellow in the IEEE, the Purdue University Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineer Award and is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

About Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

SEL invents, designs and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids around the world. This technology prevents blackouts and enables customers to improve power system reliability and safety at a reduced cost. A 100 percent employee-owned company headquartered in Pullman, Washington, SEL has manufactured products in the United States since 1984 and now serves customers worldwide. The company’s mission is to make electric power safer, more reliable and more economical.

About Purdue Discovery Park District

Discovery Park District is a $1 billion, 30-year project to transform the west side of the Purdue University campus. Purdue Research Foundation and Browning Investments are partnering on the district. A goal of the project is to support Purdue's long-term enhancement and improved quality-of-life goals, including the support of research, innovation, economic development and community development by linking faculty, staff, students, visitors and area residents. The district includes as much as 7 million square feet of interior building space, including a hotel; restaurants; retail, office and business spaces; parks; research facilities; and industrial space.

About Purdue School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is the largest academic unit at Purdue University and is consistently ranked in the top 10 of all ECE programs nationally. With more than 100 faculty members and approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, ECE at Purdue is among the nation’s largest ECE departments.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 765-413-6031, casequin@prf.org

Media contacts:

Purdue media contact: Tom Coyne, 574-309-2958, tjcoyne@prf.org 

SEL Media Contact: Kate Wilhite at kate_wilhite@selinc.com

Edmund O. Schweitzer III, SEL Media Contact: Kate Wilhite at kate_wilhite@selinc.com
Gov. Eric Holcomb , Contact: Abby Gras 317-232-8845, agras@iedc.in.gov 
Mitch Daniels, Contact: Brian Zink at bzink@purdue.edu 
Gary Henriott, ghenriott@henriott.com
Venkataramanan Balakrishnan, ragu@ecn.purdue.edu

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