Bringing Ideas to Fruition

Jim and Diane Overman & Chuck and Anna Mae Miller support the Innovation Design Center
The Innovation Design Center will foster organizational and management skills with projects that put the classroom into practice through curricular and extra curricular activities.

"It will be a building by students and for students."

It's a fitting description of a new campus project, the Innovation Design Center (IDC), from a former student leader, Keith Hansen (BSBME '12).

In 2011, Hansen helped lay the groundwork for the IDC as vice president of the Purdue Engineering Student Council (PESC ). PESC made the first contribution to the center, and the organization's $250,000 gift led the way for the development of a hub to foster innovative, student-led projects.

The plans for the new facility are now underway, and its location at the corner of Russell and Third streets will put it at the center of the Student Success Corridor. The center will foster organizational and management skills with projects that put the classroom into practice through curricular and extracurricular activities.

Chuck (BSCE '57) and Anna Mae Miller and Jim (BSME '80) and Diane Overman (BSIM '80) have seen firsthand the power of student ideas put into practice, and the unique approach of the IDC inspired them to contribute to the effort.

The Millers have remained closely involved in campus activities since they left Purdue in 1957. Their three children, son-in-law and grandson all attended the University, with 11 Purdue degrees and three generations of civil engineering graduates among them.

They appreciate that the IDC will help students cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit.

Chuck served for 25 years as the CEO of Diamond Construction, a highway paving company. The Millers' experience as small-business owners motivated them to become the first individual donors to sponsor an Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS ) team, and their gift, The Charles A. and Anna Mae Miller Scholarship, is awarded each year to a student participating in EPICS.

Through their work with EPICS , the Millers have a firsthand appreciation for the creativity and ingenuity of Purdue students, and they hope the IDC will provide new resources to equip students to further develop their ideas.

The Millers believe the design center will be the ideal place for students to organize, discuss, plan and actually bring their ideas to fruition.

To ensure that these goals are met, over the past two years the planning committee for the IDC has taken the building's planning process directly to the students.

The committee held open forums to invite feedback from students and faculty about the design of the center, and student representatives on the committee like PESC member Anna Filley, a senior in biomedical engineering, played a key role in the process.

Student input was incorporated into decisions about the center's layout, which will include project spaces, design laboratories, a shared artisan shop and a large open bay space for construction of student projects.

"We went down the line to review every concern and see how we might incorporate student ideas into the design," Filley says. "It was a collaborative effort and a student-centered approach to the building."

A broad representation of student views about the center was a critical component, since the IDC will bring together students not only from the College of Engineering, but also from the College of Technology.

When Jim and Diane Overman heard about the plans for the IDC , they wanted to help support the interdisciplinary facility.

One of their favorite Purdue activities in recent years has taken place miles from campus in their hometown, Houston, where they cheer on the Purdue Solar Racing Team at the Shell Eco-marathon.

The Overmans see a connection between the racing team and a building like the IDC , which they think will multiply the potential for more interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts.

Both Jim, the manufacturing business lead at Shell Oil Company, and Diane, who runs Overman College Consulting, appreciate their education at Purdue for teaching them the importance of working across disciplines and collaborating within a team. They hope a spirit of innovation will thrive among the students who work on projects at the IDC.

"At Purdue, you learn critical thinking and the practical application of problem solving," Jim says. "The IDC supports those principles. We wanted to help give Purdue students the best facility to have that kind of collaboration."


To support this program, please make check payable to the Purdue Foundation and designate to the "Innovation Design Center." Mail to the Purdue Foundation, 403 W. Wood St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2007.

Left photo on banner: Chuck and Anna Mae Miller. Right photo on banner: Diane and Jim Overman.