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Greetings from Illinois Institute of Technology!

We begin a new year recognizing Zheng John Shen, Grainger Endowed Chair Professor in Electrical and Power Engineering at Armour College of Engineering, as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Shen is the fourth faculty member from Illinois Tech to be distinguished as such by the NAI. His predecessors are Hamid Arastoopour (M.S. GE ′75, Ph.D. ′78), Henry R. Linden Professor of Engineering and director of the Wanger Institute for Sustainability and Energy Research, and Mohammad Shahidehpour, Bodine Chair Professor and director of the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation. I was also inducted into the NAI in 2015. Shen invented a type of power technology widely used in supercomputers and high-performance servers.       

In late 2018 we celebrated the grand opening of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship on Mies Campus in October. Executive Director Howard A. Tullman, Chicago entrepreneur and former 1871 chief executive officer, is responsible for leading the Kaplan Institute to achieve the following goals: ensuring that all undergraduate students acquire superior innovation and entrepreneurship skills and experience; building strong partnerships with external organizations and entrepreneurs; helping recruit creative students interested in STEM fields; and providing the tools and skills students need to solve complex and significant challenges. Students returning to Mies Campus to begin the spring semester will have much to look forward to at the Kaplan Institute. 

Designed by Professor John Ronan of our College of Architecture, the Kaplan Institute is the first major academic building to be constructed on campus since the early 1970s. The building houses Illinois Tech’s Idea Shop, the Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program, and the Institute of Design, as well as visiting entrepreneurs and community collaborators. 

Our faculty continue to accomplish great things. The decision process is underway regarding the two faculty teams—the Microfluidic Drug Microbiota Interaction Platform and a Data-Driven Crime Prevention programthat have advanced to the second phase of the Nayar Prize II competition. Illinois Tech Trustee Madhavan Nayar (M.S. IE ’68), and his wife, Teresa, on behalf of the Nayar Family Foundation, established a $1 million gift to fund the Nayar Prize to challenge Illinois Tech faculty, staff, and students to develop breakthrough, innovative projects that will, within three years, produce meaningful results with a societal impact. Each team has been credited with $100,000. A jury is now  determining which team will advance to the final round of funding.  

Our university prepares students to anticipate, manage, and adapt to change through an educational experience that is rigorous in the classroom and broadening outside of the classroom. Throughout the past century, we have become a campus rich in diversity, welcoming students from 100 countries and faculty from prestigious universities across the United States and around the world. We expect our graduates to be successful professionals, comfortable in our global economy, and recognized as leaders in whatever future that they choose.

There is more we can and will accomplish. And I invite you to join us on our journey.

Alan W. Cramb