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ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The president of Trine University in Angola has announced his plans for retirement. Earl Brooks, who is currently the longest-serving college or university president in Indiana, says he will retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year after 23 years in the role.

Brooks joined the university in 2000 when it was known as Tri-State University. The school says it was facing declining enrollment, retention concerns and stressed finances, among other issues at the time.

Since becoming president, Trine says Brooks has overseen growth at the university, including raising more than $250 million to fund a revitalization of the Angola campus, as well as increased enrollment and growth in academic programs and athletics.

“Dr. Brooks’ shoes will certainly be difficult to fill, but the tremendous, transformational, work he has done over the last 23 years has put the university in an outstanding position. He also built a world-class administrative team,” Rick James, chair of the Trine Board of Trustees, said in written remarks. “All of this, along with the university’s very strong financial foundation, means his successor will assume one of the best jobs in higher education.”

Brooks announced his plans Monday in an email to faculty, staff, alumni and donors.

“I believe this university is in its strongest position ever – academically, financially, strategically – which makes it the best time to turn over the reins to a worthy successor who will keep us on this extraordinary path we built together,” Brooks said in his email. “I intend to operate this next year as if nothing has changed and plan to run full-speed across the finish line next May. This means, of course, you’ll still receive the same early-morning emails or texts. I’ll still ask the same hard questions at meetings. And I will still expect to share a laugh when we encounter one another on campus.”

Brooks says the Trine board has already formed a committee to begin the search process for his successor. A time frame for the selection was not provided.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Employees of an Ohio steel company will have access to educational opportunities and more professional development through an agreement with Trine University. Trine says North Star BlueScope Steel will create customized courses for team members using open educational resources to eliminate textbook and material costs.

The university says NSBSL employees enrolled in Trine’s online education platform will have 24/7 access to academic services and will be able to transfer up to 90 credit hours and job training experience toward a bachelor’s degree. Trine also will offer free access to job postings and recruitment opportunities along with being able to use Trine innovation 1, which offers marketing strategies and help with new products and processes.

“The partnership with Trine gives our team members another option when they’re completing their education. We’re excited about the course offerings and the flexibility Trine is extending to our team,” said NSBSL President Douglas Lange.

Click here to learn more. 

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Center for Montessori Education at Trine University in Angola has launched its early childhood education program. The university says the program, which runs through June 2022, will give 13 adult students the chance to earn Montessori licensing recognized by the state.

Trine’s Montessori program was first announced in January 2020 and is the first program of its kind in the state. The university says students will begin with an academic phase that runs through July 30, followed by a practicum phase, in which they will receive nine months of student teaching experience.

The Montessori teaching method, according to Trine, is designed to build on the way children inherently learn, including self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. The early childhood education program includes seven instructors teaching a variety of Montessori philosophy areas, such as sensory education, child development and special education.

Bridget Wallace-York, an instructor in the Montessori program at Trine, says children are consistently the center of everything that is done in a Montessori classroom.

“The fact that so many children will get the opportunity to learn, to be independent, to be confident and to learn in an incredibly developmentally-appropriate manner, it’s really amazing as we go through the philosophy that every single thing that has become a part of the Montessori method can be directly tied to current brain research, to current educational psychology and research that is being done right now,” said Wallace-York. “There are direct correlations what is, in a Montessori environment, filled with independence, choice, as well as concrete materials…how all of that fits into what we are continuing to learn is best for children.”

When the students complete the one-year program, they will be able to serve as lead teachers in a Montessori early childhood classroom and receive early childhood qualifications. They will also have the option to complete additional requirements to earn a Bachelor or Master of Education degree from Trine.

You can learn more about the program by clicking here.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Steuben County high school students and adults looking to grow their skill set have a new opportunity that could lead to careers in manufacturing.

The Steuben County Economic Development Corp. has launched a manufacturing academy designed to provide a foundation of basic knowledge and skills in manufacturing.

The SCEDC says manufacturing accounts for 35% of jobs in the county. The sector also represents a large portion of workers who approaching retirement.

“The SCEDC is excited to continue our mission to increase awareness and better align those high school students and area adults interested in manufacturing careers with a pathway to get to their destination,” said Isaac Lee, executive director of the SCEDC.

The academy has received two grants totaling more than $130,000 to help start the academy, including gifts from the 80/20 Foundation Trust and the Dekko Foundation.

“Our foundation’s focus is to bolster manufacturing and entrepreneurship in the region and this initiative is a prime example of one strategy that addresses the skilled workforce gap in our communities,” said Laura Macknick, executive director for 80/20 Foundation.

The academy will consist of both classroom and hands-on skill training experiences.

The first cohort of adults will start in June 2021. The first cohort of high school students will start with the fall semester in 2021.

Click here to learn more about the academy.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Trine University in Angola says it will bring students, faculty and staff back to normal campus operations in August. University President Earl Brooks stated in an email the move means fully-seated, in-person classes and full resumption of student activities and athletic events. 

“We intend to return to the Trine University that existed before the pandemic,” said Brooks.

Brooks says COVID-19 positivity rates on campus have remained at or below 1% throughout the spring semester, with more than 6,000 tests being conducted since mid-January. 

“We will be prepared to make any modifications required to ensure the safety of the entire campus community,” Brooks said. “However, with the success and distribution of vaccines, the continued lowering of infection rates throughout Indiana and the dedication of Trine students and staff, we are fully comfortable that we can now plan for the best and adjust if we must.”

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Trine University in Angola is extending the deadline for submissions in this year’s Trine Innovation Challenge. The competition, which will be held in a virtual format this year, is open to high school and college students, as well as members of the community, wishing to compete for cash prizes for their business and technology ideas.

The new deadline to submit projects is April 2. Participants will pitch their ideas for a share of $8,000 in prize money, split between two categories: Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurial Business.

“We recognize that many people are still facing disruptions to their work and lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which can make them feel like they don’t have the time to put together the presentation they would like,” Jason Blume, executive director of Trine innovation 1, said in a news release. “We hope that the extra time will give potential innovators the time they need to refine their products and business ideas.”

This year’s Trine Innovation Challenge will take place April 15. You can learn more about the competition, including how to register, by clicking here.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Traditional undergraduate students at Trine University in Angola will continue to not be required to submit ACT and SAT scores to seek admission through the fall 2023. The university first made the tests optional last year as the COVID-19 pandemic caused standardized tests to be canceled. 

Trine says prospective students that are able to schedule a test may submit the scores, but the scores will only be considered as part of their overall record. 

“Scheduling a test opportunity is still an obstacle for many high school students, so we are continuing our test-optional policy as a way to remove that barrier,” said Kim Bennett, vice president for enrollment management at Trine. “Instead, students can decide what they want to submit to support their admission application.”

The university said students who wish to be considered for direct entry programs or merit-based scholarships may still need to submit standardized test scores.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Fort Wayne-based 3Rivers Federal Credit Union is finishing construction on a new financial center in Angola. Construction on the $1.7 million, 2,800-square-foot facility began in the spring.

“Our expansion will also support our existing business partnerships—from real estate, to small businesses and non-profits. Moving to Steuben County has been a long time coming and we’re appreciative of the excitement folks have shared with us. Our team is ready to make an impact and invest in the success the community,” said Don Cates, 3Rivers president and chief financial officer. 

Strategic Growth Advisors of Fort Wayne is supervising the design and construction of the building, which is set to be completed in December.

3Rivers says upon completion of the Angola center, it will have built or remodeled all of its 17 northeast Indiana locations.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Steuben County Economic Development Corp. has broken ground on its new headquarters in Angola. The Enterprise Center will be a 6,000-square-foot facility housed within the organization’s overall development at Enterprise Point.

The Steuben County EDC says the new facility will be “a maker space designed to energize local and regional entrepreneurs.”

“Back in 2014, our organization brought together groups of both public and private to create the concept of the Enterprise Center around Training Space, Incubator Space, and Co-Working Space,” said Isaac Lee, executive director of the Steuben County Economic Development Corp. “Initially, the almost $2 Million dollar investment in these ideas as well as into this parcel, has now generated over $10 Million dollars in total investment. This final phase will concentrate on enhancing the entrepreneur eco-system and will continue to help keep our innovations and talent growing from within.”

The organization says the groundbreaking is a sign of the continued rise of Steuben County and northeast Indiana.

“To me what really makes you so successful is the collaboration and partnerships you have in Steuben,” said Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch. “When it comes to being able to prepare workers for the 21st century, you all have got it going on here. Governor Holcomb and I are so proud of the work you all are doing.”

Over the last decade, the EDC says Steuben County’s labor force has grown on average by 2-3% each year totaling more than 17,500 in early 2020; the highest labor force recorded in the history of Steuben County.

ANGOLA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A group of faculty and staff members from Trine University in Angola are working to fill a need for personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19. The university says the teams are developing devices that can provide alternatives to certain equipment which are in limited supply such as ventilators.

The university says one team of engineers has developed a machine to automatically pump a manual resuscitator, also known as an Ambu bag, that can serve as a replacement for a ventilator as needed. Another team is working on prototypes for a hard shell mask with a replaceable respirator filter.

The effort is being done in partnership with Fort Wayne-based Parkview Health. Jason Blume, executive director of Trine Innovation 1, says the health system has put together a team of innovators, of which the Trine engineers are a part.

“The faculty who are helping us are teaching full-time in a new environment transitioning to an online format,” said Blume. “They’re adding more to their already full-time workload because they know that their skill and ability can make an impact. This is engineering problem-solving at its finest. Under different circumstances, this would probably be one of the most fun and dynamic projects I have worked on. It is still fun and dynamic, but the stakes are much higher.”

Trine says the machine that could perform compressions on an Ambu bag is now in its fifth iteration and was developed with components that could be easily manufactured by vendors in the region. The team plans to begin testing the machine with an artificial lung this week.

The team working on the respirator mask is currently 3-D printing prototypes and also plans to begin testing this week to ensure the masks will seal well and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Trine says the team will also test alternative filters due to the filter material needed for N95 masks being in short supply.

Blume says Parkview plans to contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to see if the projects can be fast tracked into production once they have validated the work of the Trine teams. 

“We don’t anticipate slowing down,” he said. “We’re going to continue seeing where we can help and leverage what resources we have in any way that we can.”