Purdue receives the largest cash donation in university’s history

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Lilly Endowment announced Wednesday it has awarded Purdue University with a $40 million grant – the biggest cash donation in the history of the university.

Purdue officials said the money will be used to fund initiatives in ground-breaking research, expand high-tech job growth throughout Indiana as well as nationally and globally, and enhance opportunities for students. The grant will support five projects in the colleges of Engineering and Technology, as well as the Purdue Libraries.

“This support from Lilly Endowment accelerates Engineering’s expansion in ways that will make a real difference for students and drive innovations that will have impact in our state and the world,” said Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering and Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Growth in engineering contributes to economic development. Engineering discoveries, and translation of those discoveries to market, build the innovation economy. Moreover, engineering jobs pay well and create fulfilling opportunities for our students.”

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said this is an important moment in Purdue history.

“It’s now our duty to turn it into a significant event in Indiana history by delivering even more world-class engineers, technologists and leaders of all kinds, along with the discoveries, innovations and new jobs that great research produces,” Daniels said.

Purdue officials said the grant will be divided among the following projects:

  • $13.5 million towards the $54 million Flex Lab in the College of Engineering – It will enable faculty teams to collaborate on research that ranges from advanced manufacturing to imaging, and from information technology to medical devices. The planned 75,000-square-foot Flex Lab is critical to the strategic growth in engineering and will boost industry- and government-funded research collaborations and intellectual property development. In 2014 the College of Engineering received 106 U.S. and international-issued patents and generated 16 startup companies, 15 of which are located in Indiana. This lab expansion will spark a 30 percent increase. Designed to adapt to the creative and innovative needs of professors and their students, Flex Lab will house wet-lab, dry-lab and open collaboration spaces that support many disciplines.
  • $13 million for the Innovation Design Center – A project envisioned by and for students. The center – accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week – will provide engineering and technology students with open-bay space, collaborative areas and computer-aided design studios in which they can develop, build and test extracurricular and course-based design projects. Students will enter the workforce with an enhanced skill set developed from the learning and hands-on activities.
  • $5 million to expand the College of Engineering’s Maurice J. Zucrow Labs – It’s the nation’s largest university propulsion laboratory that uniquely can study a single combustion site in the largest of liquid rocket or gas turbine engines at full-scale temperature, pressure and flow conditions. Originally developed in 1964 as part of the Apollo space program, the labs will be expanded to include five new tests cells and a laser diagnostics lab for environmental controls. This expansion will significantly increase research collaborations with the world’s leading gas turbine firms as well as expand entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • $5 million for the Active Learning Center – It’s a facility that will fuse classrooms, libraries, and study and collaboration areas into one adaptable space – an innovation that no other American university offers. The active-learning approach encourages students to be more active and engaged in their learning activities and the knowledge gained. Early indications of this new approach are profound: higher student GPAs and decreased number of students who earn a grade of D or F or withdraw from these courses. The facility will consist of 38,000 square feet of study space and 59,000 square feet of classroom space.
  • $3.5 million for the College of Technology’s transformation into the Polytechnic Institute – It will introduce student-driven, project-based courses designed to address the expressed needs of the Indiana industries that employ so many of Purdue’s technology graduates. The college’s goal will be to create a student-centered curriculum that features a range of experiential and competency-based degree programs to provide students with deep technical skills grounded with a foundation in the humanities, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Lilly Endowment has supported Purdue projects in the past including a nearly $26 million grant in 2001 that launched Discovery Park – Purdue’s complex for advanced interdisciplinary research and education. In 2005, the Endowment gave an additional $25 million for continued development of Discovery Park.

The Innovation Design Center, Zucrow Labs expansion, Flex Lab and Active Learning Center are all scheduled to be ready for use in 2017.