Philly is getting an Innovators Walk of Fame. Here’s the inaugural class

 (Image courtesy of University City Science Center)

(Image courtesy of University City Science Center)

It ain’t no Hollywood Walk of Fame, but it’s a start.

By late 2014, Philadelphia will have its own “Innovators Walk of Fame.” The inaugural class of six was unveiled this evening at a gala event hosted by the University City Science Center.

“We’ve decided to invest in this to shine a spotlight on innovation in the region,” Science Center CEO Stephen Tang told NewsWorks. “We believe that greater Philadelphia is an innovation hub for the world — but, for whatever reason, we’ve been underappreciated and overlooked.”

The walk of fame inductees represent each of the STEAM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, art and math — as well as a “Corporate Champion.”

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The goal is to inspire future creativity by showcasing the best and brightest in Philly-area innovation over the past 50 years.

“We’re hoping to shine a light not only on the invention, but the person behind the invention,” Tang said. “Some the region will know and some, I think, will be surprises.”

Britton Chance is the inaugural inductee in the science category. Chance, a longtime biophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania, helped develop diagnostic tools for detecting breast cancer. He also picked up a gold medal in sailing at the 1952 Olympics.

John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert are the innovators in the technology category. With ENAIC these guys basically invented modern computing. So, yeah.

Frank Piasecki is the first engineering innovator. He’s responsible for boosting the helicopter industry to its current heights. Piasecki’s tandem-rotor helicopters lifted American troops and supplies into multiple theaters of war. He also has one of those Philadelphia historical markers.

Buckminster Fuller, representing the art category, may be the most famous of the bunch. The pioneering designer is known for his geodesic domes, but his other inventions are really worth reading about too. He was a fellow at the Science Center in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

John Backus is the innovator in math. The computer scientist worked with IBM and developed the first widely used programming language, Fortran.

All five walk of fame inductees are deceased.

The “Corporate Champion” being honored is Lockheed Martin, the aeronautics giant with 4,800 employees in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Innovators Walk of Fame will occupy a walkway between Market and Chestnut Streets at 37th Street.

Don’t expect a pathway of gold stars like its Hollywood namesake, however.

“I can’t say it will exactly be stuff in concrete,” said the Science Center’s Tang. “I think you can expect a bit of technology flair.”

Architectural renderings will be released next year.

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