Dr. Stephan S. Tang, President & CEO, University City Science Center (back row, left) welcomes the inaugural class of its Innovator Hall of Fame during the organization’s 50th birthday celebration.

Science Center celebrates its 50th anniversary; Ben Franklin announces BIG IDEA contest

Science Center celebrates its 50th anniversary

The University City Science Center announced the inaugural class of its new Innovators Walk of Fame during its 50th Anniversary Celebration event Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia.

The inaugural class of the Innovators Walk of Fame recognizes innovators in the STEAM categories of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math – as well as a Corporate STEAM Champion.  “The future of innovation will rely on a talented workforce that is well versed in the STEAM subjects,” says Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA. “Recognizing an innovator in each of the STEAM categories highlights the diverse sectors that make up our region’s larger innovation community and helps tell our innovation story.”

A Selection Committee reviewed nominations from the innovation community and made recommendations to the Science Center’s senior management team.

“Despite a storied history of discovery and invention which began with Ben Franklin and the founding fathers, Greater Philadelphia is often overlooked as an innovation hub. The Innovators Walk of Fame will shine a spotlight on the visionaries who invented Greater Philadelphia’s future,” Tang notes.

The Innovators Walk of Fame, which is presented by Wexford Science & Technology, LLC, A BioMed Realty Company, will be installed on the Science Center’s West Philadelphia campus in 2014. Future classes of the Innovators Walk of Fame will honor innovators in different categories.

Innovators Walk of Fame Inaugural Class:

  • Science: Britton Chance, M.D., Ph.D., D. Sc., was a leader in biochemistry and biophysics focusing on the physics of electronics, radiation and developing noninvasive optical devices used in medicine. Long associated with the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Chance’s innovative and impactful research was world-renowned in transforming theoretical science into useful biomedical and clinical applications.
  • Technology:  The explosion of digital technology that defines our lives today began with  the invention of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer or ENIAC as it was known, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer created by John W. Mauchly  and J. Presper Eckert, Jr. at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering.
  • Engineering:  The U.S. helicopter industry took flight thanks to Frank Piasecki.  Born in Philadelphia, Piasecki was an aeronautical/mechanical engineer, pilot and pioneer in the development of transport helicopters and vertical lift aircrafts. His tandem rotor helicopter, known as the “Flying Banana,” was a significant advancement at the time and was critical in transporting troops and supplies during wartime.
  • Art: Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome, exemplifies the innovation and discovery that takes place at the intersection of art with science, technology, engineering and math. Fuller was World Fellow in Residence at the Science Center in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
  • Math: When John Backus began his career in the early 1950s the computer science field did not yet exist. Inspired by a desire to simplify computer programming, Backus assembled and led the IBM team that developed Fortran, for years one of the best known and most used programming systems in the world. Backus was born in Philadelphia and raised in Wilmington, Delaware.
  • Corporate STEAM Champion: With 4,800 employees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Lockheed Martin gives employees and educators the opportunity to interact with the next generation of engineers and technologists by serving as local school advisors, extracurricular activity mentors and career role models for students.

Ben Franklin announces BIG IDEA contest

Have you been thinking about starting a business based on a new, tech-based product or process? Your Idea could win one of two $25,000 Cash Prizes in Ben Franklin’s BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest.

This year’s competition, sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA www.cnp.benfranklin.org and the BF Venture Investment Forum, targets the counties located in Central and South Central Pennsylvania. For contest details, a list of the eligible counties, or to apply on-line, visit bigidea.benfranklin.org!

In addition to the two (2) grand prizes totaling $50,000, the winners will also receive:

· One-year website hosting offered by Netrepid

· The opportunity to participate in a BF TechCelerator Boot Camp for Startups

· Six months free rent in the BF TechCelerator @ Carlisle (for a winner from that area)

· Assistance from the Innovation Partnership in preparing a proposal to receive a federal research (SBIR) grant

· Access to all Ben Franklin’s business support services at no charge

Stephen Brawley, President/CEO of Ben Franklin, said, “We had a huge response to last year’s contest. Nearly 2,000 people came to the BIG IDEA landing page to check out the easy application process. We believe that anyone with the courage, energy and enthusiasm to apply to a business plan contest is already a winner.”