Past Event

Why Illinois was Ground Zero for Innovation

A Road Scholar Program by John Wasik

Ripples generated by technological innovations that have occurred in Illinois have traversed the globe.

It was here that John Deere invented the self-scouring plow and Cyrus McCormick perfected and manufactured his mechanical reaper, dramatically increasing the efficiency and productivity of American agriculture. Here, too, is where the first steel-framed skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, was constructed.

By championing land-grant universities during his presidency, Illinoisan Abraham Lincoln helped to create an infrastructure that has supported momentous research, development, and creativity. The World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 introduced many significant technological developments to the world, prominently featuring Nikola Tesla’s alternating current system.

Author John Wasik will discuss how and why Illinois became such a hub of innovation. He will invite audiences to contemplate what must be done to ensure that our state can thrive in a global economy in which automation and digital technology are increasingly prevalent.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Lisa Davis at