Inside Indiana Business http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=18884

INDIANAPOLIS — Ball State University will transform a downtown Indianapolis office space into a high-tech, interactive education, research, information and outreach center that will offer educational opportunities for working professionals and engage the city and state in economic and quality-of-life development initiatives.

“The Ball State University Indianapolis Center’s main focus will be to offer excellent educational programs aimed at working professionals looking for career advancement,” said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora. “The center will also provide a key resource for state leaders promoting job growth in the insurance industry and city leaders engaged with our College of Architecture and Planning in urban design and planning efforts.

“In addition, our Center for Media Design, which has gained international attention for its groundbreaking studies in personal media usage, will establish a digital research hub in the center.”

The new Ball State University Indianapolis Center is located at 50 S. Meridian St. It will offer graduate-level courses, certificate programs, seminars and workshops beginning this fall. An informational session about the educational programs will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug 2. Online registration for the session is available at http://www.bsu.edu/distance/advising, via email at jwaid@bsu.edu or by calling (317) 913-4561.

When the center becomes fully functioning in November, the first floor will include the Center for Media Design (CMD) research hub and interactive kiosks that will allow visitors to explore the digital films, art and animation being created at Ball State, search for information about the university’s programs, and learn about Ball State’s ongoing quality-of-life development efforts in Indianapolis. Discussions are underway to offer a coffee shop on the first floor next to a bookstore for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which will locate its Indiana chapter office on the center’s third floor.

The second and third floors will be a combination of office space and classrooms where individuals can take master’s degree courses in business administration, urban design, special education, educational administration and supervision, public relations and executive development for public service.

A program for emerging leaders will offer special sessions for the center’s insurance accelerator project, which will work with insurance companies to recruit and train persons for current and future openings in the insurance industry.

Last year, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) announced an initiative to boost insurance-related jobs in Indiana and has agreed to provide Insurance Industry training grants of $750 per person per year for high potential employees to undergo leadership training.

“Ball State’s insurance accelerator project aligns perfectly with the IEDC’s strategic initiatives in workforce development and will help Indiana’s workers adapt to the changing needs of industry,” said Mike Chrysler, director of insurance initiatives for the IEDC. “This is a good partnership for the state and the university, and we look forward to collaborating on educational initiatives that will help grow Indiana’s insurance industry.”

The center will also allow Ball State to continue its award-winning work on the city of Indianapolis’ urban planning and design projects. The university’s College of Architecture and Planning previously operated a center on West Washington Street. The center won a 2004 Digital Education Achievement Award from the Center for Digital Education and a 2004 NUVO Cultural Vision Award from NUVO Newsweekly in Indianapolis for its work in coordinating community input on Indianapolis planning projects.

Having the university’s Indianapolis planning and design initiatives in the same building with the AIA’s Indiana offices and bookstore will create even greater synergies among city and university planners, architects, master’s students and the local planning and design community, said Kato Smith, president of the AIA Indiana.

“Partnering on projects and promoting good design are important aspects of development as Indiana moves forward,” he said. “We hope to bring in professionals from the landscape architecture and urban planning professions as well so that we can offer a more holistic approach to our efforts, which we believe would provide greater benefits to the development of the city and state.”

The digital research hub will allow the CMD to conduct eye-tracking, media usage and technology usability research in the Indianapolis market. The center will also showcase Ball State’s new rapid prototyping, and education and entertainment institutes.

“We want residents, businesses and organizations in Indianapolis to have greater access to our outstanding programs and resources in digital media content creation, research, urban planning, entrepreneurship and education, while also being able to stop in and use an interactive kiosk to learn about the breadth of our programs and activities in Muncie,” Gora said. “It is important for Ball State to be engaged in our capital city and partner in ways that will make the state and city better places to live.”

Source: Ball State University

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