The Society of Innovators – the largest project of the Gerald I. Lamkin I & E Center of Ivy Tech Community College – held its annual induction ceremony on October 20 at Hammond’s Horseshoe Casino. The ceremony introduced 18 individuals and 21 teams as new Members to The Society. And what better way to honor these 21st century thinkers than with a presentation by one of Northwest Indiana’s original and most iconic innovators.
Octave Chanute, creator of the Chanute biplane glider that informed the Wright brothers’ design for flight in the late 1800s, was on hand at the ceremony to help induct the newest wave of regional innovators.
Chanute, who was portrayed by The Society’s Board Governor Larry Galler, detailed the life experiences that brought him to the brink of modern flight for all in attendance.
Chanute started out working with the railroads in the Midwest as a civil engineer. He also designed the Chicago and Kansas City stockyards, in addition to the Hannibal Bridge, which was the first bridge to span the Missouri River.
At the age of 51, Chanute retired from the railroads and became a consulting engineer. In his spare time, he indulged his lifelong fascination with aviation by working out several designs for flight. He first tried a four-wing design, then a triple-wing design and, finally, the bi-wing glider that showed consistent success when tested on the dunes of Lake Michigan, now known as Miller, Indiana.
Chanute’s book “Progress in Flying Machines”, published in 1894, is what caught the attention of Wilbur Wright. Chanute then visited Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and the famous brothers, helping them to perfect their design.
Galler’s Chanute emphasized the hard work that goes into creating any type of innovation.
“Innovation is not a momentary flash of brilliance,” he explained to the audience. “It’s an accumulation of experiences; of experiments; of passion; of sweat; of tears; of sleepless nights; of luck; and, yes, occasionally flashes of brilliance.”
To learn more about Octave Chanute or other Northwest Indiana innovators, visit www.NWISOI.org.