Visionary Entrepreneur Edward “Ed” L. Kaplan to Receive Honorary Doctor of Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology

Kaplan’s longstanding commitment to Illinois Tech includes fostering cross-disciplinary innovation and collaboration and founding the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship


Ed Kaplan

CHICAGO—May 12, 2023—Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) will award Edward “Ed” L. Kaplan (ME ’65)—an influential entrepreneur, philanthropist, and innovator—with an Honorary Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa. The degree will be conferred at Illinois Tech’s 154th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2023.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized in this way by Illinois Tech, an institution that has been an integral part of my life and continues to inspire innovation and progress,” says Kaplan. “Together, we are committed to fostering an environment where the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs can harness the power of diversity, collaboration, and cutting-edge technology to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to create transformative solutions to the world’s most challenging problems.”

Kaplan—president of the private investment firm Nalpak, Inc.; retired co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Zebra Technologies; and a member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees since 1993—has been a critical part of the success of the university and its student experience. A born tinkerer and engineer at heart, Kaplan co-founded Zebra Technologies in 1969 at the young age of 26 and, with an unparalleled business acumen, grew the company into a multibillion-dollar global leader in providing bar code labeling and plastic card printing solutions under his leadership. In 2014 Kaplan and his wife, Carol Kaplan, made a generous $11 million gift to establish the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship—the first academic facility built in over 40 years at Illinois Tech’s Mies Campus, ushering in a new era of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. His continued support, most recently through a $5 million commitment to establish the Kaplan Family Student Fabrication Center, highlights his dedication to fostering hands-on learning experiences for students.

“Ed Kaplan’s exceptional contributions to philanthropy, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship have made a lasting impact not only at Illinois Tech, but also in the world around us,” says Illinois Tech President Raj Echambadi. “His unwavering commitment to advancing the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs is a testament to his dedication to inclusive technology and progress for all.”

Kaplan’s leadership and service have been recognized with numerous awards, including Illinois Tech’s Award of Merit in 2000 and the Alumni Medal in 2011, and the national Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society) Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2021. His commitment to education, innovation, and entrepreneurship extends to his work on the boards of the Museum Science and Industry and Hyde Park Angels.

“Ed Kaplan’s forward-thinking leadership and unwavering dedication to innovation and entrepreneurship have made a profound impact on the educational experience at Armour College of Engineering,” says Kevin Cassel, acting dean of Armour College of Engineering. “His generosity and commitment to providing equitable access to academic excellence and practical learning are truly inspiring and have helped propel our students to new heights in their careers. No one is more deserving of this honor than Ed.”

For more information about Illinois Tech’s 154th Commencement Ceremony, please visit


Illinois Institute of Technology

Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the collective power of difference to advance technology and progress for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. Illinois Tech students are guaranteed hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and job readiness through the university's one-of-a-kind Elevate program. Its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Its faculty and alumni built the Chicago skyline. And every day in the living lab of the city, Illinois Tech fuels breakthroughs that change lives. Visit

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