WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Purdue University will move forward today to meet the nation's demand for engineers while keeping down the cost of higher education through a building based on a public/private partnership.
Purdue and Purdue Research Foundation will dedicate the $38.9 million Seng-Liang Wang Hall, for which PRF is leasing space to the university and private businesses.
"This public/private mix is a first for Purdue and it proved a great success," President Mitch Daniels said. "Purdue Research Foundation's approach saved millions on construction and created a revenue stream to support Wang Hall. It is a formula that we plan to use again for other new construction on Purdue's campus.
"None of this would have been possible, however, without the dedication and financial support of our Purdue alumni. We especially thank Patrick Wang and his wife, Lucy, for their gift of $5 million to name the building in honor of his father, Seng-Liang Wang."
Patrick Wang earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue, both in 1972. At age 21, he went back to Hong Kong with every intention of returning to get his doctorate, but his father challenged him to instead try his hand at business. With $100,000 and just one customer, the two made small motors for a new innovation - hair blow dryers.
Today the company that the father founded in 1959, Johnson Electric Group, is the global leader in the micro-motor industry, and the son is chairman and CEO.
"My father was a visionary in electronics and understood our changing world," Patrick Wang said. "I am pleased that a building of this caliber is part of Purdue University to educate future generations of engineers and entrepreneurs."
A $1 million grant from the privately held Grainger Foundation will enable faculty and students to go beyond designing electrical machinery to actually fabricating them. A gift from alumnus Jai Gupta, who earned his doctorate at Purdue in 1974, adds computational labs to aid nanodevice research. Research in Wang Hall on integrated RF and wireless systems is funded by Tellabs Inc., founded by Purdue alumnus and philanthropist Michael Birck, retired chairman of Tellabs and former Purdue trustee.
About 80 percent of Wang Hall is leased by engineering. Purdue Federal Credit Union leases 4,000 square feet, and 8,000 square feet is left for another private business.
The foundation saved money by using a "construction management at risk" approach, in which the project manager guaranteed the final price before the contract was signed. The construction manager worked with PRF and Purdue to ensure goals were met without going over budget.
Partnership efforts also involved the community.
"Our private/public partnership included many different entities working together to make something good happen," said Dan Hasler, Purdue Research Foundation president and chief entrepreneurial officer. "This included the state of Indiana, Purdue University, Purdue alumni, the Tippecanoe Area Planning Commission, West Lafayette City Council, New Chauncey Neighborhood Association and others.
"This combined effort means Purdue faculty, staff and students have another cutting-edge facility where they can teach, research and innovate. When they do that, they will create important technologies that move through the innovation ecosystem to the public to help our global society."
As with all publicly supported entities, leases for Wang are subject to review by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and approval by the Indiana State Budget Committee.