Purdue University’s new president, Mung Chiang, outlined his vision on Wednesday for the state university’s future—in particular in Indianapolis and in the miles between the city and its main campus in West Lafayette.
Chiang was the keynote speaker at IBJ’s Technology Power Breakfast, which also featured a panel discussion with local tech leaders.
Chiang touched on Purdue’s plans for an independent campus in Indianapolis. These plans stem from last year’s announcement that Purdue and Indiana University would realign the relationship that created IUPUI decades ago.
This realignment, which is set to take effect on July 1, 2024, will result in two independent campuses: Indiana University Indianapolis and Purdue University in Indianapolis.
Chiang stressed that Purdue’s Indianapolis campus will not be a branch of its West Lafayette campus. Instead, Purdue is branding its Indianapolis operations as a fully integrated extension of its flagship campus.
“We think this [Indianapolis] is where our future lies,” Chiang told the crowd.
It’s a message that the university itself has been promoting this week. On Monday, Purdue posted a YouTube video about the Indianapolis campus, saying in part, “We are ready for the next giant leap.”
The video said the Indianapolis campus will be focused on the fields of cybersecurity, data analytics, manufacturing, microelectronics, artificial intelligence and engineering, which the school has identified as “the fields from which the biggest changes are coming.”
Purdue wants the Indianapolis to serve as a site for connecting students, faculty and local companies to advance technological innovations. The campus, the video says, “will strengthen our existing partnerships with industry titans and build new bridges with more corporations.”
At Wednesday’s event, Chiang also discussed Purdue’s goal of developing a hardtech corridor along the 63-mile route connecting downtown Indianapolis and West Lafayette. Hardtech refers to technology that is integrated into physical devices.
In addition, Chiang noted that Purdue’s board of trustees recently voted to continue Purdue’s tuition freeze for a 12th consecutive year. The board approved the continuation of the tuition freeze—which Chiang had requested—earlier this month. This means that, through the 2024-25 school year, undergraduate tuition at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus will remain at $9,992 per year for Indiana residents and $28,794 for out-of-state students.
Chiang succeeded former Purdue president Mitch Daniels on Jan. 1.
Wednesday’s event included a panel discussion about Indiana’s tech industry featuring Anushree Bag, chief information officer at the Indiana Department of Child Services; Amy Brown, founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based tech firm Authenticx; Emil Ekiyor, CEO of Indianapolis-based community development organization InnoPower; Ting Gootee, CEO of Indianapolis-based TechPoint; and longtime tech executive Scott McCorkle, co-founder and CEO at Indianapolis-based software firm MetaCX.
The panel discussed topics ranging from workforce development and Indiana’s tech job market to remote work, venture funding and diversity in technology.
Ekiyor said companies need to provide on-ramps and opportunities for low-income communities to enter the tech workforce. “We want to make sure those jobs are accessible to everybody,” he said.
McCorkle said he had made a conscious effort to hire non-white, non-male employees: “I’m the only white executive on our board.”
Brown provided some guidance for recruiting more women for tech jobs.
“If you are a woman, recognize other women,” she said. “Compliment them. Make sure their voices are heard at the table. Do your part on a micro level and it will eventually make a macro difference.”
Despite widespread layoffs at large tech companies, Gootee says Indiana’s demand for tech talent still outweighs supply, with 11,000 job openings in tech in the state.
Accessing talent is the biggest challenge facing Indiana’s tech industry, Gootee said, “and it’s not going away anytime soon.”