Three Purdue University students from
engineering, technology, and psychology
huddle over their first prototype, planning
the next evolution. In an intellectual collision lab next door, another interdisciplinary group finalizes details for their “seeing”
robot. And in a large-scale, high-bay
laboratory, a team tackles a bridge project
they could never take on in a classroom.
These are students of the near
future, working cooperatively in the
planned Innovation Design Center. The
17,300-square-foot facility is slated for construction in the Student Success Corridor
at the corner of Russell and Third streets,
where student residences and the academic
Real-world, interdisciplinary projects
The innovative new facility will provide
unique interdisciplinary experiences for
students. These reflect Purdue’s goals
and strategies for leadership in the STEM
(science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics) disciplines, as well as for
transforming educational methods.
Besides high-bay labs, design and proto-
typing studios, and intellectual collision
labs, the Innovation Design Center will
include a team project center, an innova-
tion commons, meeting spaces, and offices.
Youth education programs and other
learning opportunities will operate in the
center during the summer.
The hands-on, practical aspect is key, as
students take theory and abstract learning
from the lecture hall to the lab. Equally
significant, they will work with students
from other disciplines, creating cooperative
teams that tap diverse skills and ideas.
Applying knowledge to true-life situations
particularly interested the S. D. Bechtel, Jr.
Foundation, said Lauren Dachs, Foundation
Thanks to a gift from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation,
Purdue’s new Innovation Design Center will take interdisciplinary
design and hands-on learning to the next level.
DESIGNS ON THE FUTURE
STEPHEN D. BECHTEL, JR.
The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation was created by
Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. (BSCE ’ 46, HDR ’72) in 1957.
Bechtel earned an MBA from Stanford University,
then worked in and ultimately headed the Bechtel
Corp., a San Francisco-headquartered engineering,
construction and project management company
that was founded in 1898 by his grandfather,
Although Stephen Bechtel is now retired, his
philanthropy and passion for education continue.
The Foundation’s philanthropy often focuses on
the advancement of education, and its gift toward
the Innovative Design Center is one of several gifts
president. This is one reason the foundation chose to make a lead gift of $5 million
toward the estimated $18.5 million student
“Purdue students are developing real-world answers to the tough challenges
that face our country. The S. D. Bechtel,
Jr. Foundation sees great potential in
developing innovative solutions to complex
problems by bringing together creative and
analytical minds from different disciplines,”
“The Foundation envisions the new
Innovative Design Center as a natural
place to expand collaborative learning
experiences and encourage intellectual
discussions within and across disciplines.
It is the Foundation’s hope that the center
will serve as another hub of inspiration and
innovation on the Purdue campus.”