Purdue Polytechnic in Anderson Offers New Innovative Programs and Maker Space
By Chris Flook
Purdue University recently expanded its Polytechnic network program into the city of Anderson with an 11 acre, 94,000 square foot facility. Opening in January 2017 and located at the site of the former General Motors Plant #3, Purdue’s Anderson Polytechnic program offers the same technology degrees as the West Lafayette campus, but with smaller class sizes for students in the Anderson area. The undergraduate degrees include Engineering Technology, Organizational Leadership, Industrial Engineering Technology, Computer and Information Technology, Supply Chain Management Technology, and Mechatronics Engineering Technology. In addition to these bachelor of science degrees, Polytechnic Anderson offers certificates in Industrial Engineering Technology and Organizational Leadership and Supervision. They also offer an Associate Degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision.
In addition to the parent center at West Lafayette and the Anderson facility, Purdue Polytechnic has centers in Columbus, Indianapolis, Kokomo, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend, and Vincennes.
The new Scatterfield Road location offers amazing workspaces, classrooms, a makerspace, and the Red Gold Innovation Commons. Along with the makerspace and Innovation Commons, Purdue Polytechnic Anderson also includes a computer lab, SMC Mechatronics Lab, Materials Testing Lab, several Electronics labs, a Network Computer Lab, and a MOFAB Classroom.
Corey Sharp, the director of Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, sees the new facility as a way to prepare local students for high-skilled, manufacturing positions needed in the area’s workforce.
“A lot of students were told to stay away from manufacturing over the last 10 years,” Sharp said. Adding that, “area manufacturers as a result have more job openings than applicants.” Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, in Sharp’s view, will bridge that gap and help Anderson area students gain the high-tech skills needed for east-central Indiana’s growing manufacturing needs.
In addition to offering undergraduate courses and specialized certificates, Purdue Polytechnic Anderson is developing an outreach program, targeted at area youth with the intention of getting them excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Sharp says that “interest in STEM begins in the 8th grade” and that if we can connect these students “to programs on how to make stuff early” that interest might compel them to pursue STEM as a profession.
In part to meet this objective, Purdue Polytechnic Anderson debuted the Boiler Bang after school program this past spring. The 6-week camp was designed to introduce basic STEM concepts to Anderson area middle and high schoolers. Funded by a $50,000 Ball Brothers Foundation grant, the after school program provided students with resources, facilities, and training to create things like robots.
Working in partnership with the Anderson Township Trustee’s Girls and Boys Club, students met at the Anderson Polytechnic facility each Monday and Wednesday evening from 4:30 – 7:30 pm for six weeks. On Mondays, they learned about tooling and spent time in the wood shop. On Wednesdays, the students focused on digital skills, computer engineering, and basic electronics. The program also partnered with Toys Forever in Muncie and the Academy of Model Aeronautics for 3D printing.
Purdue Polytechnic Anderson is also developing a slot car racing program as part of their outreach efforts. Tim Kern, an Anderson-based manufacturer, loaned a $250,000 slot car race track to Purdue Polytechnic Anderson. Originally developed by Ford Motor Corp, the slot car track allows for enthusiasts to manufacture miniature cars that travel along a groove, or ‘slotted’ track. The cars usually have a low-voltage electric motor and tracks can be highly complex.
Slot car racers often build their own cars, utilizing a variety of technologies, making the hobby an excellent way to explore, teach, and celebrate STEM. In time, Purdue Polytechnic Anderson plans to develop a program where area residents can build their own cars and race them on the track at the Anderson facility.
Purdue Polytechnic is also home to an 11,500 square foot makerspace. The makerspace is utilized by Purdue Polytechnic students, but will also be open to area residents wishing to access the high-technology facilities for their own projects, training, or just for fun. The makerspace includes a full wood shop, 3D printing lab, machine center, fabrication center, and meeting space – all in conjunction with the outreach mission.
To learn more about Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, visit: https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/anderson
On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/purduepolytechnicanderson/
1920 Purdue Parkway
Anderson, IN 46016
Phone: (765) 648-2920