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Mayor speaks to ND engineers

Alex Cao | Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In a lecture Monday morning in DeBartolo Hall, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke to Notre Dame engineering students about how engineers can help to move the city forward.

Buttigieg said a big part of his job centers around bringing South Bend back from its long-dead industrial roots.

“I’m the mayor, the mayor of my hometown. I grew up here in South Bend,” Buttigieg said. “What’s great about this job is that you have the ability to shape this community [in many ways], including physically. And engineering is a big part of that.”

Although Notre Dame is a major focal point of the city today, Buttigieg said South Bend’s history does not revolve around the University.”South Bend didn’t grow up from education. It grew up from industry, … so it had this industrial phase when the Big Three was actually the Big Four, and the fourth was Studebaker,” he said. “Studebaker closed its doors exactly 50 years ago, actually, exactly this week, [in] 1963, … and what has followed wasn’t exactly post-industrial but what was actually an economically post-traumatic phase.

“The week that I entered my mayoral race, actually, there was a headline about South Bend being one of America’s dying cities.”

Buttigieg said he is bringing the city back from that phase by utilizing modern technology and using ingenuity to repurpose many of the resources South Bend already has.

“The strategy for making South Bend able to find its own way and move forward mostly has to do with a principle expressed in a lot of different ways. That principle is that you take what you have and reimagine its value in a new way,” he said. “For example, this was Ignition Park. It used to be acres and acres of crumbling Studebaker factory infrastructure, … but what we found that had the most demand for that area was an industry that didn’t exist when I was born, and that’s DataAanalytics andDdata support.”

 South Bend’s cold weather and abundance of railways that could be repurposed to fit fiber optics make it a great location for the data analytics and data support industry, Buttigieg said.    

“As we ask ourselves this question, “What kind of city is South Bend going to be in the next 50 years?” we mark our 150th anniversary this year,” Buttigieg said. “It boils down to a handful of priorities we have to address. One of them is safety, … another is what the economy in downtown looks like,,… and lastly, making sure our government is more efficient, more modern.”

After his talk, Buttigiegg answered questions about internship and service opportunities for prospective engineers in his office or for the city of South Bend.

Buttigieg told The Observer after the talk that his ultimate vision for South Bend is broad in scope.

“The goal we’re driving toward is a city that feels more like a city, a city that has a reputation of being one of America’s greatest university towns, and a city with the benefits of a larger city [and] the benefits of a smaller town,” he said.

Contact Alex Cao at acao@nd.edu