Bowen Engineering Founder to Teach at Purdue

Having interviewed Bob Bowen for a BizVoice article in the past, I can vouch for the fact that it rarely takes him long to bring up his passion for Purdue University. (Funny, during the conversation, I conveniently neglected to mention the four years I spent in Bloomington.) Now, the founder of Bowen Engineering Corporation, a thriving central Indiana company that has many Boilers on staff, will parlay his passion for Purdue into helping a new generation of graduates:

Robert Bowen, founder and chairman of Bowen Engineering Corp., is the first Hancher Distinguished Fellow, teaching a class in construction engineering and management at Purdue University this fall.

Donn Hancher was one of the founding faculty members of the College of Engineering’s Division of Construction Engineering and Management. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering at Purdue and was a faculty member for 16 years.

The teaching fellowship will be funded by an endowment set up by engineering alumni, including Bowen.

While fundraising for the endowment is still under way, Bowen is volunteering his time to teach during the fall semester. His class, "Leadership and Advanced Project Management," focuses on the technical challenges of the construction industry and the managerial decisions needed to keep a project moving forward.

"Donn Hancher and Bob Bowen have something key in common: They both are passionate about the success of Purdue’s CEM program and its students," said Mark Hastak, head of construction engineering and management.

When fully funded, the Hancher fellowship will be a renewable, three-to-five-year teaching appointment, Hastak said. The idea is to find professionals who are willing to share their experience and knowledge with future leaders in the industry.

"CEM has been searching for ways to involve industry leaders in the classroom, and the Hancher Distinguished Fellow is perfect," Hastak said.

The classes will involve more than war stories, he added. "The Hancher Fellow will push our students to a better understanding of the challenges they will face and the skills they will need."

We’ll Take Our Indiana Governors

The current latest circus in Illinois (that’s the trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich) serves as another reminder of how lucky we are in the Hoosier state. No matter political affiliation, our governors are good guys (I’m sure we’ll make that gender neutral sometime in the not-too-distant future) and have some core basic values — something missing in far too many places.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet our last six governors (Bowen, Orr, Bayh, O’Bannon, Kernan and Daniels; for those keeping score, that’s three each among Republicans and Democrats) and interview the four most recent. The most unique of those engagements would be when sitting governor Otis Bowen’s son served as our high school basketball coach. That was a big deal for the state’s top official to come to a high school basketball game in St. Leon.

Due to several opportunities to interact outside of official interviews, I have to say that I have a strong favorable opinion of Joe Kernan. The fact that the former governor happily provided his cell phone number, hopped in the back seat of my Grand Prix for a ride and shared baseball stories in the stands at South Bend’s Covaleski Stadium are small symbols of a down-to-earth man who has also been an outstanding public servant.

Contrast that with a few of the latest details from Illinois, courtesy of CongressDaily:

The trial of Blagojevich, which is entering its third week, has already gotten off to a rocky start. U.S. District Judge James Zagel ordered the defense and prosecution to come to an agreement on keeping the loudmouthed Blagojevich from waging the trial in public or he would consider slapping gag orders on the defense team.

Prosecutors asked Zagel for the gag order on June 16 after Blagojevich said outside the courthouse the day before that Alonzo Monk, who had just wrapped up four days of testimony as the government’s star witnesses, was lying in his testimony. Monk, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, is cooperating with the government after being indicted on corruption charges along with Blagojevich.

And if recent history is any guide, Democrats may learn the same lesson from voters that the Illinois GOP did in 2002 in the wake of the bribery scandal that forced Gov. George Ryan not to seek a second term and eventually led him to prison in 2007.

In the wake of the Ryan scandal, the charismatic Blagojevich ran on a platform of cleaning up Springfield and ended 26 years of GOP control of the governor’s mansion. Democrats also took control of the Senate for the first time in 10 years. Blagojevich cruised to re-election in 2006 by tying his opponent to Ryan, and Democrats expanded their majorities in both chambers to near super-majorities.

Ironically, Blagojevich could be the reason that the Democrats again fail to hold onto the governor’s mansion for more than eight years — which they have not done since before the Civil War — and the Illinois GOP is making sure voters are reminded of what Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said about Blagojevich while sharing a ticket. According to media reports, Blagojevich’s trial is expected to wrap up in September, when the campaign season will be kicking into high gear.