The Bechtel Innovation Design Center will work to promote creativity, teamwork, problem-solving, and management skills in engineering and technology students as they plan and execute student-led projects. Scheduled to open in 2017, the center will feature design and prototyping studios, open workspaces, labs, and "magnet spaces" that make it easier for students to collaborate with others and will be accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The center also will engage K-12 students in hands-on engineering design projects through summer programs offered by the university's Minority Engineering and Women in Engineering programs.
A 1946 graduate of Purdue's civil engineering program, Bechtel was named president of the Bechtel Group in 1960 and was appointed chair in 1973. In addition to serving in federal appointments under presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1975 and served as the academy's first chair from 1982 to 1986; has been honored by the American Association of Engineering Societies with the 1982 Chair's Award, the 1997 National Engineering Award, and the 2003 Kenneth Andrew Roe Award; and received the 1999 Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering, the 1991 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the 1980 Herbert Hoover Medal. A longtime supporter of Purdue, Bechtel has made a number of significant investments through the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to foster innovation in engineering education, including grants to help launch the university's School of Engineering Education; the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE), which teaches engineering thought and practice to elementary and secondary-school students; and the Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Laboratory, which provides an experiential, collaborative learning environment for all first-year engineering students at Purdue.
"We at Purdue are inspired by the life of this truly legendary Purdue graduate, and we are proud to honor both Dr. Bechtel's accomplishments and his generosity by naming the Innovation Design Center for him," said Purdue president Mitch Daniels. "This center will be the nation's finest such home for student collaboration outside traditional academic boundaries — a hub of entrepreneurship, ideation, and design for Purdue's next generation of leaders."