Science Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary—Inventing the Future
November 5, 2013, Volume 60, No. 12
The Science Center—incorporated in 1963—is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. The University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation and entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. It provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities and support services for entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing and established companies. The Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. Since it was founded by local institutions including Penn and Drexel (Almanac November 1963), graduate organizations and current residents of the University City Science Center’s Port business incubators have created more than 15,000 jobs that remain in the Greater Philadelphia region today and contribute more than $9 billion to the regional economy annually.
The University City Science Center announced the inaugural class of its new Innovators Walk of Fame during its 50th Anniversary Celebration event last month 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,” said Science Center President and CEO Stephen S. Tang. “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,” Dr. Tang noted.
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 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, 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 (Almanac November 23, 2010).
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 (Almanac January 30, 1996).
Engineering: The US helicopter industry took flight thanks to Frank Piasecki. Born in Philadelphia, Mr. 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. Mr. Fuller was World Fellow in Residence at the Science Center in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Almanac September 26, 1972).
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, Mr. 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. Mr. 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.
For more information about the Science Center, go to www.sciencecenter.org
World-renowned artist Ryan McGinness’ monumental mural at the University City Science Center features layers of “event horizons,” creating a feeling of portals into an infinite inner space and a strong gravitational pull on the senses. The dimensions of the mural are: 50’6” x 18’9”; it is at 3701 Market Street, on the north side of the street, visible when looking up above the parking garage, heading westward. McGinness’ Black Holes series is an exploration of how ideas of outer space and mind space can intertwine. His new mural combines the worlds of pop art, science, skateboarding, graphic design and public art in one piece of vinyl.
This mural was dedicated last month during Mural Arts Month; it was organized by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program—which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The mural is sponsored by the University City Science Center, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Wexford Science & Technology.
“We were intrigued by the idea of partnering with the Mural Arts Program because of their demonstrated expertise in using art as a place-making tool,” said Dr. Stephen S. Tang. “Ryan McGinness’ Black Holes series is an interesting blend of art and science that aligns with our vision of the Science Center campus as a place to explore the intersection of art, science and technology.”