Dedication of Luddy Hall caps off wildly successful LuddyFest

IU President Michael McRobbie SPeaking

If the history of the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is a storybook, the chapter on Luddy Hall has officially begun.

Luddy Hall, the spectacular new $39.8 million home of SICE, was dedicated by Indiana University during a ceremony attended by IU president Michael McRobbie, provost Lauren Robel, and Fred Luddy, the founder and chief product officer for ServiceNow who also developed the concept of platform as a service in cloud computing. Luddy is an IU alumnus who provided an $8 million gift for the construction of the building.

“This magnificent new building, designed by the renowned architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, features state-of-the-art facilities and represents Indiana University’s deep commitment to international leadership in education and research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” McRobbie said. “We’re celebrating a building that will foster the generation of new ideas among faculty and students, further enhancing the spirit of innovation at a university already ranked among the world’s most innovative.”

Robel remarked how Amatria, the sentient art installation unveiled on the fourth floor earlier in the week, provides the perfect example of the symbiosis of technology and humanity that is at the heart of SICE. Distinguished Professor of Engineering & Information Science Katy Börner, representing the faculty, compared the grand staircase in Luddy Hall to a modern day Roman piazza where chance meetings can lead to collaborations. She also said that although Luddy Hall is both beautiful and functional, it will also serve to shape students who will thrive from the energy in the new building.

Raj Acharya, dean of the SICE, hailed the building’s design and thanked all of those whose hard work made the vision of former deans J. Michael Dunn, Bobby Schnabel, and Brad Wheeler—all of whom were in attendance—come to life.

“I’m so proud of all of the hard work that went into this spectacular building that showcases the best the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering has to offer,” Acharya said. “Luddy Hall is an instantiation of Indiana University’s motto: Lux et veritas, which means light and truth. We at Luddy Hall pursue truth in a building awash with light.”

Data science graduate student Saloni Sharma spoke on the welcoming environment of the school and how students will benefit from the school’s commitment to the future.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities that IU, this school, and its supporters have provided me,” Sharma said. “Those opportunities will be extended to the students of tomorrow with this magnificent home. Current and future students will greatly appreciate your generosity in building a better tomorrow.”

Luddy and his family were honored by McRobbie for his generosity, and he said SICE and its new home could help the state become a leader in technology.

“I think we have a real opportunity to become a hub of innovation,” Luddy said. “We have the perfect storm for success. This building is going to foster innovation to help create the future. For our family, the only thing more rewarding than seeing this building realized is to see what comes out in terms of who is going to be educated here, what they’re going to do, and how our future is going to be shaped.”

The final day of LuddyFest opened with day two of Research Horizons, SICE’s showcase of research being conducted by faculty. More than two dozen researchers presented lightning talks on bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and other areas such as virtual heritage, improving technology in rural America, emerging trends in computer-mediated communication, and more.

Professor of Computer Science and Informatics Predrag Radivojac opened the session by providing an update on SICE’s involvement in the Precision Health Initiative, which is part of IU’s $300 million Grand Challenges program. PHI uses precision treatments that take into account lifestyle and genetics to fight disease. Goals of the PHI include curing one cancer and one childhood cancer, and make progress in one chronic disease and one neurodegenerative disease.

Research Horizons was capped off with a keynote address from retired four-star General Victor E. “Gene” Renuart, the former commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the chairman of the board and interim CEO of Indiana’s newly established Applied Research Institute (ARI). Renuart discussed the importance of the work being conducted at SICE, which can be used not only for its intended design but also will help drive advances in other applications in the future. He also explained how the ARI will provide opportunities for collaboration between its own members and SICE.

Student startup teams also were on hand in the Shoemaker Innovation Center for Connect in the Shoebox, giving the public an opportunity to discover the budding businesses being developed by students at SICE.

Following the official dedication of Luddy Hall, a school picnic was held under a sparkling blue sky in the sun-bathed east plaza. Students, faculty, staff, and the public enjoyed food, music, and games, and winners of the SICE Scavenger Hunt were announced. Oral histories of memories of SICE were collected in the Luddy Hall Atrium, and LuddyFest wrapped up with a series of events during a video game night, bringing together video game clubs from across campus that included an interactive arcade, game demos, an exhibition match featuring one of the campus Overwatch teams, and some video game lightning talks.

Ground was broken on the $39.8 million facility in October 2015 and was completed on schedule.

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