Indiana University’s LuddyFest celebrates new chapter for students’ futures

Courtesy of IU Communications

While naming and dedicating buildings on college campuses happens all the time, it rarely brings a week’s worth of celebrations to a university. Indiana University, however, understands that a building like Luddy Hall will bring innovation to the forefront and engage the university’s students, faculty, partners and community in the future of technology. That is certainly cause for celebration.

From April 9-13, IU will host LuddyFest, a celebration of the official dedication of the newly opened Luddy Hall on its Bloomington campus. Named after IU alumnus Fred Luddy, the founder of enterprise software company ServiceNow, this 124,000 square-foot building will provide classrooms, advanced laboratories and other amenities for students enrolled in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SICE).

The original School of Informatics was founded in 2000, and created one of the country’s first Ph.D. programs in informatics, along with other interesting courses in the degree programs. Sensing the need to better prepare for the future as technology became more deeply rooted in many aspects of society, the Department of Computer Science joined the school in 2005. In 2009, they became the School of Informatics and Computing. In 2013, SoIC merged with the then School of Library and Information Science. The school has since added programs in data science and IU’s first engineering program in intelligent systems engineering, and now offers a wide range of coursework designed with technology in mind.

Raj AcharyaDean of IU School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering

“Our school was founded on the spirit of flexibility and adaptability. Our path will continue to see us serve as leaders in technology, and our new name is a sign of our ability to change with the times,” said SICE Dean Raj Acharya upon the school’s formation. With majors like computer science, informatics, and intelligent systems engineering, SICE has grown into one of the largest schools on IU’s campus.

Students in SICE are being developed as renaissance engineers” through an interdisciplinary program that combines the school of informatics and an AI-driven engineering program with IU’s liberal arts tradition. The school is not solely focused on engineering or computer science or arts and humanities, but rather blends technical and scientific aspects of computing and engineering with the human and societal implications of technology. To this end, these “renaissance” engineers are encouraged through the curriculum to apply their knowledge to subjects like business, fashion and design, media, music, theatre, the visual arts and more.

Kelsey KeagDirector of Marketing, IU School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering

Commensurate with the school’s growth and needs to stay abreast of technological development, SICE needed a space all their own where they could provide top-notch programming for their students. “In our existing spaces, our school was in lots of different areas, scattered across campus,” said SICE Director of Marketing Kelsey Keag. “With Luddy Hall, we’re now all in the same area. Being together this way will foster collaboration and partnership between students, faculty and others within the school.”

Luddy Hall is the first completed building situated along the Woodlawn Corridor, which connects the center of campus to the athletics complex. Established in IU’s most recent master plan, this corridor’s goal is to create a new mixed-use area that runs through campus, complete with its own feel and personality. The building, right at home in this corridor, houses seven classrooms ranging from 25-160 student occupancy, eight experimentation labs, conference rooms and pods for focused work, and the Shoemaker Innovation Center to encourage entrepreneurial design and thinking. “We’re excited to have everyone see the breadth and range of what we can do,” Kelsey said. “Luddy Hall with make fostering conversation between areas a little easier. We can show off how unique our school is, and we can get students to collaborate and work together.”

The week of celebratory events includes a keynote address from IU alum Ian Rogers, the former senior director of Apple Music and the chief digital officer of LVMH, a luxury products company whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Moet & Chandon. (Ian can also boast that he was the former webmaster for The Beastie Boys.) Other activities and panels will invite speakers from around the country, including Stanford professor and co-founder of social music-making app company Smule, Dr. Ge Wang. The sculpture destined to be the building’s centerpiece, a piece of living art designed by world-renowned architect Philip Beesley, entitled “Amatria,” will be officially unveiled.

Builders prepare “Amatria” for its official unveiling. Courtesy of IU Communications

Current students will also be participating in the Cheng Wu Innovation Challenge, a pitch contest for the most innovative ideas for startups produced by IU students. Students developing ideas like a personal creativity booster using brain waves or a pulsar-based terrestrial navigation system will compete for a piece of $15,000 in scholarships.

When IU President Michael McRobbie officially dedicates the building on April 13, it will truly launch the future of SICE and its programs at the university, putting into the spotlight advanced technologies and their connections with other disciplines. “We’ve been taking a step back and looking where we are now as a school,” said Kelsey. “With Luddy Hall, we’re building where tomorrow is going to be shaped, built, and inspired. This building is the next stepping stone that’s going to open so many doors for us.”

You can find the full list of LuddyFest events at their website. Registration is not required but requested.

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Alex Sventeckis is the content manager for TechPoint. He writes about everything tech in Indiana: people, companies, news, and more.