The University is poised to help the Fort Wayne area prosper and add to workforce pipeline while expanding student opportunities.
Ball State University has deepened its presence in the Greater Fort Wayne, Ind., area—creating opportunities for additional community partnerships with the University to grow. This furthers a workforce pipeline consistently stocked with skilled Ball State graduates who might choose to live and work in Northeast Indiana.
Tangible evidence of that deepened presence is Ball State at Electric Works.
Located within the sprawling mixed-use Electric Works development, Ball State at Electric Works is a place where students, faculty, and staff—initially from the University’s R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP)—will continue working with industry and community partners in and around Fort Wayne. Students will learn from professionals in their chosen field and be introduced to industries experiencing accelerated growth and prosperity in the region.
A kickoff celebration for Ball State at Electric Works was held Dec. 7. Numerous Ball State graduates attended the event, which showcased ways businesses can engage with Ball State to develop talent pipelines, equip current employees, promote the economic region, and do business with the University. Also on display was a community-based project by several of CAP’s Urban Planning students.
“Ball State at Electric Works is a tangible symbol of the important work our University is doing all across Indiana—work that connects our campus resources and our students with businesses and communities that are helping to spur our state’s economy to greater prosperity for all citizens,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns.
CAP’s involvement at the Electric Works site is expected to be a catalyst for other Ball State colleges to leverage their expertise in the Northeast Indiana region. Future opportunities are being explored in the healthcare and education fields.
Through a Ball State Immersive Learning project, and with guidance from faculty advisors, CAP students will learn in this hands-on, real-world experience. Each semester’s project will vary. A studio class will be paired with a project based in the Fort Wayne area; in many cases, area industry firms will advise the classes. The space at Electric Works serves as a meeting place for classes, with conference rooms and large-group spaces available as needed.
CAP has also established a fund for a scholarship that will support the work of selected students in future studio projects. Fort Wayne-based firms and individuals contributing to this fund are MKM Design, Design Collaborative, Martin-Riley, Elevatus Architecture, MSKTD, and Matt and Lisa Momper. Matt Momper, ’83, serves as a member on Ball State’s Board of Trustees.
Ball State has more than 14,000 alumni living in Northeastern Indiana, including several hundred CAP graduates—many of whom worked directly on the multi-million-dollar Electric Works mixed-use development led by Ancora Partners. Fort Wayne native and 1991 Ball State CAP graduate Jeff Kingsbury is a principal at Ancora.
Mr. Kingsbury has compiled a list of more than 100 Ball State graduates he knows were involved in the development of the Electric Works project—a collection of Cardinals in a variety of career fields, such as Dr. Debra Faye Williams-Robbins, EdD EdS ’21, deputy superintendent with Fort Wayne Community Schools, and John Urbahns, ’05, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
“Once we really did the math and started to figure out the impact that Ball State graduates have had on this project, it gave us a window into how every college within the University could find ways to engage with Electric Works, which is going to be significant to this community, region, and state for a long time,” Mr. Kingsbury said.
Ball State has a significant track record of engaging with industry partners to bolster students’ educational experiences and better serve Indiana, said Jeff Eads, director for Industry Engagement at Ball State. “We are thrilled to work with employers and community leaders in and around Fort Wayne to help the Northeast Indiana region flourish,” he said.
Ball State graduate and Fort Wayne resident Julia Bemiss ’95 attended the Dec. 7 event at Electric Works. She expressed excitement about the possibilities arising from Ball State’s increased presence and involvement in her community.
“I think Ball State’s presence in Fort Wayne will be a win-win for everyone involved,” Ms. Bemiss said. “Fort Wayne is growing, and Ball State can help us grow. And there will be great opportunities for the students to learn in real-life situations. Plus, Ball State does a lot to connect students with employers, non-profits, and other organizations.”