What is the TechForward Initiative?

In 2024 Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago officially launched the ART: IL-TechForward initiative funded by the National Science Foundation to fuel a pipeline of diverse talent in Chicago’s emerging technology sectors through practical experiences that assess and translate Illinois Tech’s research to practice.

Through the ART program, part of the TechForward initiative, Illinois Tech aims to foster market-focused research and develop a more diverse workforce in high-growth technology sectors. The initiative is a collaborative effort, incorporating industry professionals and faculty in Chicago’s tech ecosystem, focusing on translating research for societal benefit and speeding up technology transfer. With Chicago’s diverse racial demographics, especially in the Bronzeville neighborhood, where Illinois Tech is located, the initiative directly addresses disparities in tech entrepreneurship.

Our Guiding Principles

Create an inclusive environment for learning, broaden our reach to underrepresented members of the community, integrate our programming with Chicago’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and economic development efforts.

Meet the Team  

  • Maryam Saleh, Executive Director, Kaplan Institute; lead principal investigator  
  • Mahesh Krishnamurthy, Academic Director, Kaplan Institute; co-PI 
  • Kenneth T. Christensen, Provost, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Chief Academic Officer, Illinois Tech; co-PI 
  • Fred Hickernell, Vice Provost for Research, Illinois Tech; co-PI 
  • Bill Payne, Executive Director of Science and Technology, Polsky Center, University of Chicago; co-PI
  • Niharika Hanglem, Program Director, Kaplan Institute; senior personnel 
  • Yi Zhang, Invention Manager, Office of Technology Management and Licensing, Illinois Tech