Meet the first class of Philadelphia's Innovators Walk of Fame - Philly


Oct. 21, 2013 11:28 am

Meet the first class of Philadelphia’s Innovators Walk of Fame

As part of the University City Science Center's 50th anniversary, it plans to install a walkway at its building at 37th and Market Streets that will commemorate innovative Philadelphians, including inventor Buckminster Fuller and helicopter pioneer Frank Piasecki. The project, called the Innovators Walk of Fame, is slated to be installed in early 2014.

University City Science Center CEO Stephen Tang addresses the crowd at the Science Center's 50th Anniversary celebration in October 2013.

(Courtesy photo)

It’s a celebration of Philadelphia’s rich history in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

As part of the University City Science Center‘s 50th anniversary, it plans to install a walkway  at its building at 37th and Market Streets that will commemorate innovative Philadelphians, including inventor Buckminster Fuller and helicopter pioneer Frank Piasecki. The project, called the Innovators Walk of Fame, is slated to be installed in early 2014.

Watch the Science Center’s video about the awardees here and read about them below.

From the Science Center’s press release:

Science: Britton Chance, M.D., Ph.D., D. Sc., was a leader in biochemistry and biophysics focusing on the physics of electronics, radiation and developing noninvasive optical devices used in medicine. Long associated with the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Chance’s innovative and impactful research was world-renowned in transforming theoretical science into useful biomedical and clinical applications.

Technology: The explosion of digital technology that defines our lives today began with the invention of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer or ENIAC as it was known, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer created by John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, Jr. at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering.

Engineering: The U.S. helicopter industry took flight thanks to Frank Piasecki. Born in Philadelphia, Piasecki was an aeronautical/mechanical engineer, pilot and pioneer in the development of transport helicopters and vertical lift aircrafts. His tandem rotor helicopter, known as the “Flying Banana,” was a significant advancement at the time and was critical in transporting troops and supplies during wartime.

Art: Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome, exemplifies the innovation and discovery that takes place at the intersection of art with science, technology, engineering and math. Fuller was World Fellow in Residence at the Science Center in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


Math: When John Backus began his career in the early 1950s the computer science field did not yet exist. Inspired by a desire to simplify computer programming, Backus assembled and led the IBM team that developed Fortran, for years one of the best known and most used programming systems in the world. Backus was born in Philadelphia and raised in Wilmington, Delaware.

Corporate STEAM Champion: With 4,800 employees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Lockheed Martin gives employees and educators the opportunity to interact with the next generation of engineers and technologists by serving as local school advisers, extracurricular activity mentors and career role models for students.

A nominating committee reviewed nominations from the public and made recommendations to Science Center management.

All five awardees are no longer alive. Check out our list of living computer and Internet pioneers with Philly ties.

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