HAMMOND and WESTVILLE, Ind. — Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) newest structure, a steel bell tower at its Hammond campus, rang its first official chimes April 29 during a ribbon-cutting and celebration.
PNW additionally premiered its fight song, “Onward PNW,” and alma mater song, “In the Heart of the Calumet,” via the bell tower’s chimes and in-person singing.
PNW administrators, students, faculty and staff members, and public officials came together at the site of the bell tower, near Lawshe Hall and the Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building on the Hammond campus, to celebrate completion of the structure’s construction, which began in November 2021.
“This marks a truly special day in Purdue Northwest’s history,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon. “Our new bell tower will be a distinctive visual landmark for years to come. What makes this structure even more extraordinary is it was propelled by students’ visions, as well as student and faculty-led design work, to produce what stands before us. We are also incredibly thankful for Lenex Steel’s generous materials donation to this structure. I very much look forward to the different ways we will use this bell tower at our campus events.”
The structure will serve as a visual landmark on the Hammond campus. PNW leaders expect the tower to become a central gathering place for students, alumni and other campus visitors.
“What a great example of learned knowledge and skill sets to accomplish this goal,” said Niaz Latif, dean of the College of Technology. “The bell tower is now a signature structure on this campus. I thank Chancellor Keon for his support.”
The steel and fabrication was donated by Indianapolis-based Lenex Steel Company.
“It is a privilege to partner with others in constructing the tower as a way to celebrate the students, staff, faculty and community of Purdue Northwest,” said Michael Berghoff, president of Lenex Steel Company and chairman of the Purdue University Board of Trustees.
From student vision to reality
Also recognized during the ribbon-cutting were the minds behind the bell tower’s inception.
The original idea for a bell tower began with past PNW Student Government Association leadership. The concept was brought to faculty in the College of Technology, which included Dean Niaz Latif and Rick Rickerson, laboratory administrator.
Five students and a faculty member worked on the design, analysis and cost proposals for the bell tower as a capstone project during 2019 and 2020. The group included:
- Todd Burns, B.S. Construction Engineering and Management Technology ‘20
- Lacey Doyle, B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology ‘21
- Nic Packwood, B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology ’21; M.S. Industrial Engineering Technology ‘22
- Jesus de la Cruz, lecturer of Mechanical Engineering Technology; B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology ’17; M.S. Industrial Engineering Technology ‘19
- Afshin Zahraee, assistant professor of Construction Engineering and Management Technology
“I am truly grateful to the university and the College of Technology for allowing us, the students, to be part of PNW’s history,” said De la Cruz. “This was a great experience. I really enjoyed working with everyone involved and I cannot wait to bring my family to come see it.”
“I am incredibly proud of what our students have accomplished with this bell tower project,” said Zahraee. “They have put together years of work and studies and produced something tangible for the community. It is a marker they will be able to come back to and visit the rest of their lives. This shows the capability of PNW students to achieve above and beyond what they believe to be possible. Our students have the capabilities to not only make differences in the community, but to make impacts like these in the world.”
New visual landmark
Chancellor Keon concluded the ceremony by thanking those in attendance and pointing out the bell tower’s new significance — a central gathering point on the campus for recreation and other future ceremonies. Creativity abounds for the bell tower’s future roles.
“We have been trying to make certain campus spaces more student-friendly and traditional in nature,” said Chancellor Keon. “With this we bring one more level of warmth and inclusivity to our campus.”
Purdue University Northwest
Purdue University Northwest (PNW) is a premier metropolitan university dedicated to empowering transformational change in our students and in our community. Located in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, PNW values academic excellence, supports growth, and celebrates diversity. For more information about PNW, visit www.pnw.edu.
PHOTO: Bell Tower ribbon-cutting
CUTLINE: From left, Chancellor Thomas L. Keon; Todd Burns (B.S. Construction Engineering and Management Technology ‘20); Nic Packwood (Mechanical Engineering Technology ’21; M.S. Industrial Engineering Technology ‘22); Afshin Zahraee, assistant professor of Construction Engineering and Management Technology; Jesus de la Cruz, lecturer of Mechanical Engineering Technology (B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology ’17; M.S. Industrial Engineering Technology ‘19); Lacey Doyle (B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology ‘21); Rick Rickerson, laboratory administrator; and Niaz Latif, dean of the College of Technology, perform the ceremonial ribbon cutting for PNW’s new bell tower at the Hammond campus.
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