Purdue Northwest Celebrates New Campus Bell Tower
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.
A Visual Landmark
“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.
This marks a truly special day in Purdue Northwest’s history. Our new bell tower will be a distinctive visual landmark for years to come.
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
The students contributed their different skills to research the structure and create renderings. De la Cruz, Doyle and Packwood were the tower’s designers. Burns created renderings using the Autodesk Revit and Adobe Photoshop programs.
“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.”
The group’s presentation to PNW’s senior leadership meticulously researched finite element analyses, factor of safety, strength of materials and bill of materials. Construction began in November 2021 and finished in April 2022.
“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.”
I am truly grateful to the university and the College of Technology for allowing us, the students, to be part of PNW’s history.
A representative structure
The bell tower structure is designed and constructed with materials representative of Purdue Northwest and the Northwest Indiana region.
- Steel I-beams represent Northwest Indiana’s heritage as an industrial, steel-producing region of the state. The steel also nods to PNW’s leadership with the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium.
- A diamond-shaped top represents the strong, tough, everlasting nature of a diamond.
- Five I-beams spiraling upward represent PNW’s five different colleges: Business; Engineering and Sciences; Humanities, Education and Social Sciences; Nursing; and Technology. The spiral, with the tallest I-beams meeting at the top, is additionally representative of PNW’s unified Hammond and Westville campuses. The spiral is intended to also create a “mountain peak” image.
- The Purdue Northwest logo is placed at the bottom center of the structure and walkway.
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.”