Purdue designed torch unveiled ahead of Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay

Published on : Saturday, December 12, 2015

unnamed (28)Governor Mike Pence, First Lady Karen Pence and Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann today unveiled a functional prototype of the torch that will be used throughout the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. The unveiling occurred in front of an audience of 400 Indiana fourth graders as part of Statehood Day celebrations in the Statehouse. The torch was designed by an interdisciplinary team of engineering faculty and students from Purdue University led by Dr. Timothée Pourpoint.

“We are excited to begin celebrating Indiana’s 200 years of statehood by unveiling the torch that will be carried by over 1,800 Hoosiers during our Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay,” said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who oversees the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD). The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay is an initiative of IOTD. “The Purdue engineering team has created a true Indiana masterpiece.”

A short video of the design and construction of the torch can be found here.

The final version of the torch will weigh nearly 5 pounds and stand approximately 2 feet tall. It is made entirely of an aluminum lithium alloy from Alcoa Inc.’s Lafayette plant. The project was a collaborative effort, involving approximately 50 Purdue students, faculty and staff since the beginning of 2015. The effort that went into the project was shared among schools in Purdue’s College of Engineering.

“For us to design it is a great honor. It’s not just designing a little gadget that will stay at the back corner of a lab for the next group of students,” Pourpoint said. “It’s something that will be very public. That robustness of design and importance of having an aesthetically beautiful torch is something that we took pride in.”

The exterior design of the bicentennial torch was modeled after the torch on the Indiana state flag. The interior of the torch houses components that are more technologically advanced than any torch before it. The torch is equipped with a global positioning sensor and micro-processing unit that tracks its real-time movement from anywhere. It is powered by Indiana bio-fuel and a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack.  The torch also comes with safety features to ensure secure transport and the well-being of the torchbearers carrying it.

A specification sheet highlighting the design features and electronic systems of the torch can be found here.

“Indiana has the great fortune of being home to Purdue University, one of the world’s preeminent engineering schools,” said Mark Newman, executive director of IOTD. “This incredibly talented team of Purdue faculty and students has created a lasting symbol for our bicentennial, one that will endure long after the relay concludes.”

The prototype torch unveiled today will be the primary one used during the torch relay. The team at Purdue designed two other torches; a children’s torch for younger torchbearers and a torch that will hold a flame at high rates of speed. The torch will be primarily transported by people, passing the flame from torchbearer to torchbearer; but other modes of conveyance that are symbolic of the history and heritage of Indiana, including watercraft, farm equipment, racecars, horse and buggy, antique automobiles and others, will also be used.

Today’s Statehood Day celebration marked the official kickoff of Indiana’s bicentennial year. In conjunction with today’s bicentennial kickoff, IOTD launched a new website, VisitIndiana200.com, highlighting events, anniversaries of interest, places to visit and things to do during the bicentennial year. The new site also features the torch relay route map and a link to torchbearer nominations. Additional information and updates on the relay will be shared on social media. Visit INTorchRelay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to follow.

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay is modeled after the Olympic Torch Relay and will pass through all 92 Indiana counties during a 2,300 mile trek in the fall of 2016. The torch route was charted by representatives from numerous state agencies as well as volunteers at the county level. The route showcases locations of natural beauty, local interest and historic significance to the state. The relay begins September 9 in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, and concludes with a ceremony at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on October 15.

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay is currently accepting torchbearer nominations from the public. Torchbearer nominations recognize Hoosiers who demonstrate exceptional public service, excellence in their profession, acts of heroism or volunteer service to their neighborhood, community, region or state. The deadline for submitting nominations is January 31, 2016. Nomination committees have been formed in each county to manage the selection process. The online nomination form is available here.

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