Purdue University wins $20m in grants to enhance cleanroom space

Published: 11-Jan-2024

Lilly Endowment has approved grants totalling US $100m to Purdue Research Foundation to support two major Purdue University initiatives

Lilly Endowment has approved grants totalling US $100m to Purdue Research Foundation to support two major Purdue University initiatives, including $20m for the Birck Nanotechnology Centre, which houses the state-of-the-art Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, one of the largest and most advanced university cleanrooms in the world. 

Funding also includes $50m each to support Purdue Computes and the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, both of which were identified last year by Purdue as top strategic initiatives for the university. Together, these commitments represent the largest gift in the university’s history.

Purdue Computes

Purdue Computes, an initiative that focuses on computing departments, physical artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors and quantum, will use Lilly Endowment funds to continue its mission to connect faculty and students from across the university and enable it to further advance to the forefront of these sectors and their diverse applications. Initiatives will include:

  • $20m for the Birck Nanotechnology Center, which houses the state-of-the-art Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, one of the largest and most advanced university cleanrooms in the world. Renovations will include:
    • Dedicated training bay for students.
    • Updated cleanroom and laboratory space for advanced microelectronics packaging.
    • Enhanced capabilities for quantum research.
  • $20m to launch the Institute for Physical Artificial Intelligence. With a founding director and interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellows, the institute members will develop innovations that will bring together the bytes of AI and the atoms of “what we grow, what we make and what we move” and further integrate physical AI into Indiana’s core economic sectors.
  • $10m to increase brain gain in Indiana, with enhanced workforce development efforts in the areas of semiconductors and physical AI. Purdue Computes will expand programs for pre-college, college and working professional students that provide on ramps to careers in semiconductors and a variety of industries, from digital agriculture and advanced manufacturing to digital health and autonomous transportation that utilise AI.

Purdue Executive VP for Research, Karen Plaut, said: “With Purdue Computes, the university is building on its legacy of leadership in computing and microelectronics to trail blaze technologies that will shape the future, and this gift from Lilly Endowment will make a big difference in helping us achieve our goals. This support is essential to realising the power of AI and computing in transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and life and health sciences and creating the workforce for the future that benefits Purdue students, our state and our nation.”

Daniels School of Business

Lilly Endowment funding for the Daniels School, which was unveiled as Purdue’s next big move in February 2023, will support construction of an approximately 164,000sqft building. This new building, which will be connected to the Krannert Building immediately to its east, will give the Daniels School three facilities, joining the Krannert Building and Jerry S. Rawls Hall. All will be connected, both above and below ground.

Construction, which was approved by the Purdue Board of Trustees in December 2023, is scheduled to begin in July 2024 and be completed in April 2027. 

The new facility will be the second-largest classroom building on Purdue’s campus, behind only the Wilmeth Active Learning Center. 

Business and technology converge

The grants, while given separately and for distinct purposes, will operate together to elevate the university and leverage new investments in Indiana’s economy because the Daniels School and Purdue Computes share the following goals that connect them strategically:

  • Increasing and improving Indiana’s talent pipeline by recruiting more top students, as well as faculty interested in new research opportunities.
  • Positioning the university to stimulate economic development and prosperity in Indiana by helping the state take full advantage of opportunities in emerging industries, deepening collaborations with Indiana employers and encouraging students to find careers with Indiana-based businesses.
  • Infusing ethical principles throughout all teaching and research activities, remaining mindful of the critical importance of ethics in the ever-evolving world of AI and other advanced technologies.
  • Building on Purdue’s reputation and capacities in key disciplines, especially STEM, where mutually beneficial cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities are expected to grow.

Purdue Provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs, Patrick Wolfe, said: “The Daniels School and Purdue Computes initiatives will collaborate to prepare students who understand how business and technology converge, including in the areas of AI and other advanced technologies, so that they can bring this expertise to their corporate careers. This strong bilateral connection between business and STEM education aims to be the first of its kind in the nation.” 

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