Finalists Announced For Society of Innovators Awards

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Six finalists are competing for the Chanute Prize. (photo courtesy of our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana) Six finalists are competing for the Chanute Prize. (photo courtesy of our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana)

The Society of Innovators at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest has announced 12 finalists for its annual innovation awards. The society will announce the 2016-2017 winners next month at Horseshoe Hammond Casino.

The finalists include six individuals who are up for the Fellows prize and six teams competing for the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation and the Accelerating Greatness Award. The Society of Innovators says all six individuals could be inducted as fellows while up to two teams could win the Chanute Prize.

"These innovators demonstrate that innovation can be found everywhere, which helps our region be more competitive and strengthens our quality of life," said Thomas Coley, chancellor of Ivy Tech Northwest and North Central regions. "Ivy Tech is proud to discover these innovators and to encourage more innovation in Northwest Indiana."

The finalists for the Fellows prize include:

  • Jon Groth, area director/principal, Porter County Career and Technical Education, Valparaiso, who led the innovative repurposing of an historic 1912 Grand Truck rail depot into a 21st century classroom.
  • Chancellor Thomas Keon, Ph.D., who launched one of the first models in the nation leading to the unification of two campuses into a single university called Purdue University Northwest. 
  • Elizabeth Lynn, Ph.D., Valparaiso University, who founded the Center for Civic Reflection, a national center that developed and refined an innovative applied use of the humanities to illustrate issues of concern through reflective dialogue.
  • Sandra Chimon-Peszek Rogers, Ph.D., Director of the Calumet College of St. Joseph Biophysical Chemistry Department and a researcher into Alzheimer’s disease, who launched an innovative curriculum that combines lectures with hands-on lab work that especially helps struggling students.
  • Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura, who transformed a “sleepy company town” into an evolving “21st century destination.” This shift had its roots in the 2004 tax crisis that led to an innovative entrepreneurial culture that reinvigorated the community.
  • Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins, Superintendent, Michigan City Area Schools, who championed transformation by overcoming “missed opportunities” and demonstrating an innovative spirit of collaboration involving the community, county and school system.

Finalists for the Chanute Prize and Accelerating Greatness Award for Team Innovation include:

  • Dwyer Instruments in Michigan City, which designs and manufactures innovative controls, sensors and instrumentation solutions holding 650 patents. 
  • Artspace Uptown Artist Lofts in Michigan City, which is the first project in Indiana and a model for the nation with 44 live/work lofts for low income artists and their families to anchor and revitalize the downtown. 
  • The Grand Calumet River Restoration project, the result of a collaboration among eight companies and regulatory agencies, which transformed the Grand Calumet River with more than 80 percent of the river “coming alive again” over the past decade. 
  • Pratt Paper Mill in Valparaiso, which is the newest and most cost competitive paper mill in the container industry in North America. This innovative $260 million state-of-the-art facility is a 100 percent recycled paper facility.
  • “Shifting Sands – On the Path to Sustainability," an innovative documentary with an educational focus that traces the epic story of collision between industrial and environmental interests transforming into today’s collaboration among industry, regulatory agencies, communities and environmental groups.
  • Urschel Laboratories Inc., which has pioneered a transformation in technology and created an entrepreneurial culture among its 400 employees that have made it the global leader in food cutting technology. 

All finalists are automatically bestowed honorary lifetime membership in The Society

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