November 10, 2020

Purdue receives top honor for its work in regional economic development

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With its growing Purdue Polytechnic High Schools making STEM-based education available in urban communities, and Purdue University Global reaching adult learners around the country, Purdue University’s economic and workforce impact is felt statewide and beyond.

For that, Purdue University has been honored by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) for its ongoing commitment to develop the regional economy through several innovative projects.

daniels-connections Purdue University President Mitch Daniels speaks to students from Purdue Polytechnic High School in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center. The high school seniors visited Purdue's campus for a month in July, experiencing many of the facets of University life. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

The Economic Engagement Connections Award will be given to Purdue as part of the eighth annual Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards during the APLU Virtual Annual Meeting on Monday (Nov. 9) through Thursday (Nov. 12).

The IEP Connections award is the top-prize in the APLU awards competition, recognizing overall excellence and leveraging across three award categories: Place, Innovation and Talent. Purdue was a finalist for the IEP Talent award, recognizing exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development.

Steve Abel, Purdue associate provost for engagement, said the Connections award is a phenomenal achievement for Purdue and showcases the scope of economic development that has been a focus at Purdue.

 “This recognizes a lot of hard work by a number of our people, and we’re very proud,” Abel said. “The award seems so relevant given the impact of Purdue Research Foundation, the Polytechnic High Schools and Purdue Global, which demonstrate our unique influence in the aspects of innovation and economic development.”

After receiving the IEP designation in 2014, Purdue sharpened its focus on the goals of the program. With thought and purpose, Abel said Purdue evolved its commitment to innovation and economic development, culminating in APLU’s IEP Innovation Award in 2016 and the IEP Place Award in 2019. 

“We stand together today as the proud recipient of the APLU connections award, recognizing strength across innovation, place and talent,” Abel said.

Purdue created the Purdue Polytechnic High Schools to serve as an engine of upward mobility by building a pipeline of low-income and minority students to counteract the unacceptably small number emerging from the public education system, not just in Indiana, but nationwide. The schools provide students authentic STEM-focused experiences that will prepare them for a successful future. These experiences include internships, industry projects, dual credit courses and technical certifications.

Also highlighted in previous IEP awards were the Purdue Center for Regional Development and the State Street project.

From helping high school students and adult learners who may otherwise be left behind, to aiding innovators of all ages so their ideas can translate to the marketplace, Purdue is cultivating and nurturing talent.

The Purdue Foundry, which assists innovators as they drive forward throughout the commercialization process, has aidied more than 250 new start-ups within the past six years. Purdue Global provides high-quality, customized higher education opportunities to adult, non-traditional students – promoting talent by ensuring there is a path to degree for every adult learner.

The university also is noted for its efforts to help improve college readiness and cultivate diversity in STEM disciplines through its first location of Purdue Polytechnic High School (PPHS) in 2017 and two more locations, a second in Indianapolis in 2019 and its third campus in South Bend in August of 2020.

PPHS takes a radically different approach to high school education. They’ve replaced the traditional high school model with a personalized, flexible schedule that allows each student to learn at their own pace and competency-based education in which students are always encouraged to improve and grow.

These successes reflect Purdue’s comprehensive and inclusive vision for advancing economic engagement. In each case, Purdue is removing barriers so others can achieve their own goals, fulfill their own personal ambitions, and propel the economy forward.

Five other universities were finalists for the IEP Economic Engagement Connections Award.  To be eligible for an IEP award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) designation from APLU, which recognizes institutional commitment to regional economic development.

Nearly 70 institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer, Media contact: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084,

Source: Steve Abel,

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