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Mark Maassel of Indiana Energy Association to Deliver Keynote Address

Valparaiso University will host the 2014 Innovators Café on Thursday, June 19, featuring keynote speaker Mark Maassel, vice president of the Indiana Energy Association and former president of NIPSCO.

The event’s theme is “Developing the Engineering Leaders of Tomorrow Through Innovation” and is a collaboration between Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering and Ivy Tech Community College Northwest’s Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and Society of Innovators.

“We’re honored to partner with Ivy Tech Northwest to host the 21st Innovators Café, which offers an invaluable opportunity for our community to explore innovations in the sciences and how they connect to our everyday lives and professions,” said Eric Johnson ’87, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering.

Prior to his appointment as vice president of the Indiana Energy Association, Maassel was president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum, a regional business membership organization that promotes economic development and environmental sustainability in Northwest Indiana. He has long been known for his community involvement and proven ability to build partnerships with key leaders across Northwest Indiana.

“Science literacy is vital in today’s ever-changing and adapting world. The cutting-edge research conducted by students and faculty at Valparaiso University illuminates the way we need to go as a country and worldwide,” Maassel said. “Indeed, this series offers a wonderful opportunity to inspire innovative leadership across Northwest Indiana. We need great people and organizations like Valpo to develop innovative technologies and sustainable solutions.”

The café will showcase the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility, which houses one of only five solar furnaces in the country. The facility was designed to use solar energy to create solar fuels and commodities, and the College of Engineering has received two grants to conduct research in this area: a $2.3 million cooperative agreement from the Department of Energy and a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

“This Café is especially meaningful because Ivy Tech Northwest offers, through our Valparaiso campus, a pre-engineering program. This is designed to prepare students for transfer to baccalaureate engineering degree programs like the one at Valpo,” said Thomas G. Coley, Ph.D., chancellor of Ivy Tech Northwest. “We are proud to have Ivy Tech grads, including Kevin Curry and James Conway, complete their engineering degrees at Valparaiso University.”

Speakers will also discuss how Valpo’s undergraduate education is shifting the paradigm from lecture-based learning to experiential, innovation-based learning.