Laurie Burns McRobbie

Internet of Things Lab Dedication

Welcome and Introduction

Good evening!  Thank you, Gerry – it’s great to see you, as always, and to see so many Hoosiers gathered to celebrate an important milestone for the city of Fishers and the state of Indiana. 

 It’s also an important milestone for Indiana University as a partner in the enterprise we’re celebrating tonight, the new Indiana Internet of Things Lab.

IoT Lab

As we all know, Indiana is a world leader in growing things, making things, and moving things. And here in the 21st century, growing, making and moving all rely on digital technologies.

This new Lab, which is the first of its kind in Indiana, gives the state the pole position in achieving world leadership in IoT and in shaping how we all live and work in this new century.   

The Indiana IoT Lab is a 24-000-square-foot space that will invite entrepreneurs and developers to work on embedded technology for equipment and products as diverse as self-driving cars, washing machines, and coffee makers.

It is the state’s first workplace to develop smart technology for everyday devices like the fitness trackers we wear on our wrists or the GoPro cameras we use to capture our adventures—essentially anything with an on/off button.  For those of us of a certain generation, it’s The Jetson’s come to life!

On behalf of IU, I’d like to thank Launch Fishers CEO John Weschler, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, and all of the IoT lab’s sponsors who have supported this vision for this community and our state. 

And I especially want to congratulate John and Scott for their leadership in making the community of Fishers a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship.

IU’s Role

Indiana University has been encouraging a culture of discovery since 1820. IU Bloomington’s IoT Research Center and the new Internet of Things Collaboratory at IUPUI are just two of our most recent examples of IU doing its part to advance the future of technology. 

These efforts join a long tradition in computer science and informatics, and leadership in the uses and applications of information technology in every facet of the academic enterprise. 

As IU continues to expand its culture of building and making, notably with new degree programs in engineering and architecture, its core mission of knowledge development and dissemination is even more firmly embedded in the economic progress of the state of Indiana. 

IU is very proud to be both a co-founder and major sponsor of the Indiana IoT lab. We believe this investment will pay real dividends for all Hoosiers, perhaps especially our students, who will find new ways to innovate and thrive in the IoT environment.

Indeed, as much as we can bring the resources and scale of the university to bear on this lab and IoT in general, it is our mission to educate the next generation of developers, entrepreneurs, civic and business leaders, and Hoosier workers across the board that finds expression here in Fishers tonight.

Because of the IoT lab, our students will have that many more opportunities to expand their skills and ideas and become key players in the knowledge economy. 

They will be that much better able to step into the kinds of jobs that this economy relies on, and with the great support of communities like Fishers across the state, they’ll be more likely to stay in Indiana and invest their intellectual capital here. 

Indiana tech companies already recruit more graduates from IU than any other institution of higher education, into the high-quality jobs that we need to keep the Hoosier state economically and civically strong.

My Background and Current Role

IoT is an enormously exciting and powerful development, and to think that 50 years ago, the internet itself was just being born – so much has happened in such a short time – in my lifetime, in fact. 

I got started in tech right around 1980, when the first PC came out and the first nation-wide computer network was emerging.  It was an exciting and dynamic time – much like today – and I was fortunate to find career success over the next 25 years, even though I never set out to become a technologist – I was a history major in college. 

That’s important to point out, because it’s still the case that a background in the liberal arts can be a great springboard to a career in tech.  But we still suffer from stereotypes about what it takes to be successful in tech, and what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur. 

We’re all acutely aware of the projected shortages of tech-savvy, digitally adept workers, not only here in Indiana but across the country.  It’s on all of us to do whatever we can to expand the image of a successful technologist and a successful entrepreneur looks like.  In other words, not all look like Bill Gates! 

As IU’s first lady, I’ve been fortunate to be able to combine my tech career experience with my long-standing commitment to advancing diversity in the workplace, and to be part of creating some new initiatives at IU and throughout Indiana that help build good networks to support women and minorities in their aspirations for tech careers and businesses, and that ensure that we’re presenting a diverse array of role models for what a technologist looks like. 

Launch Fishers is equally committed to this vision.  Just this past December we held an event here, called Launch(ed) Women in Tech, co-hosted by myself, Indiana First Lady Janet Holcomb and Fishers First Lady, Aunna Fadness. 

The event’s purpose was to bring young women together with educators and working professionals to inspire interest in technology that will prepare them for a career in STEM.  

It was so successful that we’re going to do it again this fall – stay tuned for more information on that!  And who knows, maybe some of the young women who joined us in December will put their ideas to work right here at the IoT someday soon.

Conclusion

It really is my honor to be part of tonight’s celebration.  The IoT lab is where individuals, small companies and entrepreneurs can dream big and turn a vision into a reality. I have no doubt it will help define Indiana’s economic future, and IU is proud to be part of it.  

Thank you again for coming this evening.