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Purdue evaluates education, economic development efforts in Anderson

For Indiana to increase its prosperity, Purdue believes it has a duty to respond to the needs of our state and communities such as Anderson. Purdue's Office of Engagement oversees the university's efforts to share its resources to enhance education, boost economic development and stimulate the growth of high-paying jobs.

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke and I recently visited Anderson to get a firsthand view of how well the university is doing.

One way we seek to stimulate economic development in Anderson is by helping companies remain competitive. Since 1986, Purdue's Technical Assistance Program has worked on 64 different projects with Anderson companies, such as Anderson Tool and Engineering, which we toured during our visit.

Anderson Tool and Engineering has worked with Purdue's Technical Assistance Program to implement a quality-assurance program and complete 10 other projects involving machining, information technology and 3-D drawings. It also has worked with Purdue's Department of Food Science to develop equipment for food companies.

Another economic driving force is Purdue's new Manufacturing Extension Partnership office, which opened last year at the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson. Partnership staff work directly with manufacturers on applying efficient operations and management systems. Their goal is to help companies improve workflow and save operating costs.

Purdue's outreach to Indiana companies is paying great dividends. According to the Technical Assistance Program's most recent annual report, companies created or preserved 385 Indiana jobs in 2006 alone. They also reported $16.8 million in increased sales, nearly $31.7 million in sales retained, more than $5 million in cost savings and nearly $9.5 million in capital investments.

Purdue's outreach efforts are not limited to the business community. We believe that cooperative ventures with other colleges and universities can pay big dividends.

One of our strongest partnerships is with Anderson University, with which Purdue's College of Technology has teamed to offer classes toward Purdue degrees at the Flagship Education Center in the Flagship Business Park. The 53,000-square-foot, $7 million facility, scheduled to open for classes in the fall, will offer students additional space, provide more modern facilities and expand educational opportunities. 

Programs in four of Purdue's technology fields, currently housed at Anderson University, will relocate to the Flagship Education Center. Purdue offers bachelor's degrees in both industrial technology and organizational leadership and supervision, and associate's degrees in computer and information technology, electrical and computer engineering technology, and organizational leadership and supervision.

The Anderson University programs that will be offered in the new facility include the master's of business administration and master's of education programs, as well as adult studies programs and new programming in entrepreneurial studies.

The center's location within the Flagship Business Park will expose students to a variety of high-technology businesses that offer mentorship opportunities and support to faculty researchers. This will give students the opportunity to supplement their classroom work with hands-on projects in collaboration with those in their chosen fields. Businesses, and ultimately, the economy of Anderson, also will benefit.

While the Flagship Education Center is a new venture, one of Purdue's well-established outreach initiatives is the Cooperative Extension program. Formed in 1905, it has a permanent presence in Madison County so that it, too, can educate the community and promote economic development. Whether it's offering advice on solving agricultural problems or providing educational programs for both youth and adults, extension staff make a difference on a daily basis.

Through educational outreach efforts and economic development initiatives like the Technical Assistance Program, Purdue pledges to continue to use its resources to serve Anderson and surrounding communities. We look forward to developing even more partnerships in the years to come.

— Victor L. Lechtenberg is Purdue University's vice provost for engagement. He coordinates the university's outreach efforts in support of economic development, educational enhancement and service learning. The community visit to Anderson was President Jischke's 70th and final stop.

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