Tellabs chief funds IIT environment project
February 14, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Tellabs Chairman Michael
Birck, 67, is a successful tech entrepreneur who cares about the
environment. Today Birck's Naperville-based Tellabs Foundation
announces a $200,000 grant to the Illinois Institute of Technology
to launch the Sustainable Village project.
Village is an innovative program to showcase and prototype methods
to provide clean energy and water without desecrating the environment
or robbing future generations.
includes creation of a demonstration "House of the Future,"
wind-powered turbine systems, a hydrogen fueling station and equipping
IIT service vehicles to run on hydrogen fuel cells.
is a perfect fit for Birck and his foundation. Both focus on health
care, education and the environment. Birck says Sustainable Village
will educate future leaders on environmental issues, and provide
prototype solutions. He believes a healthy environment will yield
improved community health.
boy makes good
up on an Indiana farm. "I was exposed to nature first hand,"
says Birck, whose father was a mail carrier. "We had this
small farm to tide us through the low-income times."
the clean air of his youth. He is not an environmental radical.
He simply believes "protecting the environment is a very
appropriate thing to do."
Village is part of a broader effort at IIT to engage students
and faculty in cross disciplinary work with real world impact.
Last year, IIT launched the Energy and Sustainability Institute
to focus on conservation in collaboration with government and
the private sector. The effort builds on IIT's research into alternative
energy sources that dates to the 1950s.
of the most challenging issues for the next 100 years is access
to clean water and energy," says Said Al-Hallaj, associate
professor of chemical and environmental engineering and the guide
for the Sustainable Village.
require a mix of skills, says Al-Hallaj: "It's not simply
a technical problem. It's also a social, economic and environmental
problem. There are challenges for scientists, politicians and
business leaders," Al-Hallaj adds. The group of 30 students
and faculty building the Sustainable Village will include engineers,
architects, computer scientists and environmentalists.
Field's virtual valentines
CIO Bill Barnett is beaming this Valentine's Day because of digital
ecstatic about the 2.6 million specimens in the museum's botany
collection, which dates back to the World's Columbian Exposition
here in 1893. Barnett is fighting to preserve these flowers electron-ically,
assuring scholars everywhere can view the Field's treasures.
So far he's
got 700,000 specimens online at www.fieldmuseum.org.
More good news for Barnett: he landed a $796,000 federal appropriation
sponsored by Rep. Danny K. Davis (D) and Rep. Henry Hyde (R) to
continue the digital cataloging.
one of Chicago's scholarly CIOs. He's an archeology Ph.D. turned
techie. "I specialized on the beginnings of agriculture in
Europe," says Barnett, whose work guarantees future generations
can view the Field's collections on-line.
Science magazine's March issue ranks Chicago No. 6 nationally
among the top tech cities. Assistant Editor Rena Pacella said,
"We were a little surprised, but pleasantly." It could
be Chicago tech, like Chicago's economy, is diverse. We're leaders
in nanotech, biotech, mobile wireless and software development.
This balance might keep us under the radar. Pacella was tickled
to hear Microsoft hires more software engineers from the University
of Illinois than any other campus.
International CIO John Moon, president of the Society
for Information Management, convenes the group Wednesday at Spiaggia.
Ellen Kitzis, group vice president for Gartner Group speaks on
"The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results."
Kudos to former
Chicago Software Association Executive Director Candy
Renwall, who launched Technology Business Partners last
week. ... The University of Chicago's Bob Rosenberg
hosts his Tech Forum Friday at the Gleacher Center downtown. Spotlight
is on the science and technology benefits to emerge if Illinois
wins the $1 billion federally funded Rare Isotope Accelerator
project. Robert Rosner, chief scientist, Argonne
National Laboratory, kicks off the discussion.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.