August 2005 Newsletter

From the Dean

Dean Katehi

Receiving the latest news from your alma mater should be exciting and informative. That's why we've spent the past few months reinventing the Alumni e-Newsletter.

In its new quarterly format, the e-Newsletter will provide you with an update on current happenings in the College of Engineering. We'll also profile engineering students in action, and feature alumni whose contributions to their communities and Purdue are making an extraordinary impact.

This issue, we feature facility growth. With new building and renovation of old, we're transforming our classroom, laboratory, and research space to take Purdue Engineering into a new century of discovery and educating engineers.


Linda P. B. Katehi
John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering

Feature: Building Excitement

Our strategic plan, implemented in 2002, calls for investments in our people and facilities to bring renowned faculty to campus, to enhance the research and teaching of current faculty, and to create a peerless learning environment for our students.

Our strategic plans calls for the College of Engineering to increase facility space by more than 50 percent.

To be sure, our alumni and corporate partners are the pillars supporting this growth. We'd like to highlight five of our building projects that are reshaping campus and leading our college into a new century of discovery.

The Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large Scale Civil Engineering Research: Assignable Sq. Ft.: 57,641 • Cost: $11 million • Completion Date: October '03

Bowen Lab gets its muscle from the lab's strong floor and a 40-foot L-shaped strong wall that provides the capacity to test full-scale buildings up to four stories tall. With a clear ceiling height of 54 feet, loading apparatus, and advanced instrumentation, Bowen Lab is setting a new standard for materials and structures testing.

Built on Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) property, Bowen Lab is completely privately funded—as are its operating costs. The contractor, Force Construction, is owned by alumnus Harold Force (BSCE '73, MSCE '74), and about 90% of the donors are alumni from the School of Civil Engineering.

Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering: Assignable Sq. Ft.: 44,687 (new addition) • Cost: $19.5 million • Completion Date: Dedicated in Oct. '04, occupancy began Jan. '05

Forney Hall's five-story addition and remodeling of the current building has transformed this 1940's structure into a 21st century learning and research environment equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and high-performance instrumentation. The new addition includes a 200-seat auditorium and two 60-seat classrooms, a unique fundamentals laboratory for hands-on undergraduate learning, an advanced laboratory for student research, and new labs for bioengineering, catalysis, and nanoscience research.

The addition to Forney Hall was paid for entirely with private donations, including $10 million from Robert (BSChE '47, MSIE '48, PhD ChE, HDR ‘81) and Marilyn (BSChE '47) Forney, and $2 million from the Dow Chemical Co.

Birck Nanotechnology Center : Assignable Sq. Ft.: 105,245 • Cost: $51 million • Completion Date: Fall '05

This leading-edge national center located in Purdue's Discovery Park will, when complete, expand the frontiers of nanoscale research and be one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world, with specialized labs for nanoscale chemistry, biology, and physics; semiconductor-grade clean rooms; and office space for faculty, post-docs and graduate students from various disciplines across Purdue's campus.

A majority of this center's cost was covered by a $30 million contribution from Michael (BSEE '60, HDR '95) and Katherine Birck and a $10 million gift from Donald (BSEE '68, HDR '01) and Carol (BS from Science in '69) Scifres. The Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation contributed $9 million.

Biomedical Engineering Building: Assignable Sq. Ft.: 53,844 • Cost: $25 million • Completion Date: Projected Summer '06

The Biomedical Engineering Building, a four-level facility containing both undergraduate and graduate teaching and research facilities, is a first at any academic institution in Indiana. It will house the newly established Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and provide a synergistic environment for all students, faculty, and staff within the school. Located in Purdue's Discovery Park, this building will link the school with many of the life science and nanotechnology initiatives occurring campus-wide.

Twelve million dollars of the building's cost is funded through private donations, including $5 million from the Whitaker Foundation , an independent foundation based in Arlington, Virginia. The foundation was established as a trust in 1975 to support research and education in biomedical engineering.

Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering: Sq. Ft.: 109,670 • Cost: $52 million • Completion Date: Projected Summer '07

As the academic gateway to Purdue Engineering, Armstrong Hall will be where many take their first step in their pursuit to become engineers. Plans call for this facility to house Engineering Administration, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Engineering Education, Materials Engineering, the Minority Engineering Program, and the Women in Engineering Program.

Purdue leveraged $37.7 million in state funds to raise an additional $10 million in private gifts for the Armstrong project, including $2.5 million from Caterpillar, Inc., $1 million from Stephen Bechtel, Jr. (BSCE '46, HDR '72), $1 million from K.O. Johnson (BSAAE '50), and $1.9 million from Heddy Kurz.

Research Update

Our research is growing in exciting ways as new faculty and laboratories make their impact.

In May 2005, the College of Engineering extramural research cash awards (not considering Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Computer Science) were close to $6 million. This increases the year-to-date award total to almost $73 million, representing a 16% growth from last year's figures to date ($62.3 million). Our strategic goal is to double the College of Engineering research awards in five years.

Up Close

A conversation with John Rich, a 1954 AAE graduate.

What is your family's connection to Purdue?

I am a 1954 Aero graduate. My brother and sister-in-law graduated from Purdue, and I have two uncles who graduated in the 1930's—one of them played football. My great uncle graduated in 1904 and has his name on a plaque in the Union. I am a cousin of Mike Murphy, a 1957 Aero grad who is one of the leading rocket scientists in the country.

Why did you choose to attend Purdue?

I have always been interested in aviation. I grew up on a farm in South Bend that was located behind an airport. I used to watch the airplanes and always thought that flying seemed a lot more fun than plowing fields. In high school, my counselor knew of my interest in aviation and told me about Purdue's aeronautical program. It was great because Purdue was only 100 miles away!

From an alumni perspective, what changes have you seen at Purdue and/or within the College of Engineering in the past 10 years?

Wow! There have been a lot physically. But I think the one thing I've noticed is that, when I attended Purdue 50 years ago, there seemed to be a separation between the faculty and students. Now, students seem to be more than a name and number. There is much more exchange between the faculty and students. I think that's great.

How do you stay engaged with Purdue University and the College of Engineering?

I read a lot of the publications that are mailed to me. As I've gotten older, I've made an effort to become a more active alum.

How often do you get back to campus?

I try to come back at least once a year for a football game. I usually attend the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Awards banquet.

Is there a place on campus or a memory of campus that you hold with high regard or fondness?

I always go to the airport. While in school, for a summer job, I was a welder who helped with reconstructing the wind tunnel at the airport—that part of campus is always special to me.

What does it mean to you to be a Purdue alum?

Purdue is a great university. I always tell people that if they want to be an engineer, they need to go to Purdue because it has the best engineering program in county.

You recently made a gift to the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering - can you tell us what motivated you to make that gift?

About 10 years ago my wife passed away, so I didn't need all the money that I had saved away. I made a pledge to fund a scholarship and when that pledge was complete, I asked the College what their greatest need was. They told me Armstrong Hall.


Students in Action

Student organizations bring life to education, allowing students to gain valuable experience they'll apply later in their careers as engineers.

We recently had a conversation with Jonathan Hassler, founder and president of Opportunity Motorsports—Purdue's first stock car racing team, to get a cockpit view of this student organization's impact on the motorsports industry.

What is Opportunity Motorsports?

J.H.: Opportunity Motorsports is an official Purdue University student organization that was formed during the fall of 2004. The purpose of the organization is to provide a variety of hands-on racing experiences to students currently enrolled in a motorsports related curriculum (most happen to be enrolled in mechanical engineering) and seeking a professional motorsports career. The organization intends to maintain the business and mechanical aspects of a late model stock car in semi-professional competition while promoting Purdue University, its affiliates, and the organization's supporters.

How many students will/do participate in Opportunity Motorsports?

J.H.: Currently all 7 original members of Opportunity Motorsports are active within the organization. As the organization grows, we anticipate participation from 20-25 individuals on an annual basis.

Tell us more about how students participate within the organization.

Opportunity Motorsports is maintained entirely by Purdue University students. While some students work on the business side dealing with sponsors, donors, investors, and the general public, other students work on the technical side-- building, maintaining, and optimizing the racecar for competition.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?

J.H.: We are currently working to develop relationships with individuals, corporate America, Purdue, and the professional racing industry, which will allow us to partner with an existing racing team for a full season of competition during the 2006 season.

Are you currently working with some 'big names' in the motorsports industry?

J.H.: We are developing a program, the Opportunity Motorsports Industrial Pit Crew, which will allow the professional motorsports industry to mold the Opportunity Motorsports experience into something that truly will turn today's Purdue students into the stars of tomorrow's racing world. We have contacted over 100 individuals from 50 different teams, including Roush Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Evernham Motorsports, and Chip Ganassi Racing, about the opportunity to advise our organization.

Do you know of other universities that have a similar program?

J.H.: While some universities have organizations that provide hands on automotive experience and others have significant involvment with the professional motorsports industry, Purdue University's Opportunity Motorsports leads the way as a program that intertwines both. Purdue students will have a unique opportunity for hands-on business and technical experience at all levels of a professional racing organization while benefiting from the guidance of some of the professional

What do you believe will be the impact on Purdue from the activities/efforts of Opportunity Motorsports?

J.H.: Opportunity Motorsports will help establish Purdue's place within the professional motorsports arena. Likewise, it will stimulate some of Indiana's brightest students to become engaged in the motorsports industry. This will create the opportunity for Purdue to become involved in professional motorsports at an even grander scale, something that parallels Governor Mitch Daniels' 'MotorForce' initiative, and also something that could have a significant impact on Indiana's economy.

How can I show my support or learn more about Opportunity Motorsports?

J.H.: If you are interested in supporting Opportunity Motorsports, inquire about the Opportunity Motorsports Fan Club. Information is available on our website,, or can be sent to you by contacting Jonathan Hassler by email at:, or by phone at: (765) 720-1384.

You can also contact our faculty advisor, Amy Noah by email at, or by phone at: (795) 494-6490.

Upcoming Events

Purdue Day at the Indiana State Fair
August 17, 2005

Former astronaut Guy Gardner will be available from 2-3 p.m. in the Engineering Aerospace booth to sign free posters featuring Purdue astronaut alumni. Currently the director of Super Project Development at Purdue, Gardner began his career as an Air Force fighter and test pilot. As a NASA astronaut, he worked in many areas of space shuttle and space station development and support. For more information visit:

Rube Goldberg Open House at the Muncie Children's Museum
August 26, 2005

Come celebrate Purdue Engineering's success at the national Rube Goldberg Machine contest . The College of Engineering and the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers are pleased to present "Rube's County Fair" at the Muncie Children's Museum in Muncie, Indiana. You are invited to watch a demonstration of the machine, visit with members of the winning team, and tour the museum on August 26, 2005 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. For more information, contact Natalie Kubat with the College of Engineering at: (765) 496-6929 or

"Engineering the Future: Designing Engineering Curriculum for the 21st Century"
August 30, 2005

A distinguished panel of academic and corporate key figures in engineering education will speak on the Future of Engineering and also engineering education. The keynote Speaker is William A. Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering. The conference takes place on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 from 8 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. For more details, please contact Cele Flanary, (765) 494-2373 or Reservations always appreciated.

Purdue Alumni Association News

The Purdue-alumni Web Community now includes an online directory free to members of the Purdue Alumni Association, President's Council, Chancellor's Council, John Purdue Club, Varsity P Club, and Purdue University Retirees.

In addition to alumni e-mail forwarding and allowing you to update your information online, the site now lets you search for long-lost classmates and friends by first and last name, student activity, class year, or campus and major.

Ready to get Connected?

Already have an account?
If you've already signed up for the Purdue-alumni Web Community and are eligible to use the Online Directory through your membership in one or more of the organizations listed above, logon now at and look under "My Profile" to see what Purdue currently has about you in its database. Then, click over to "My Options" to control what information appears about you in the directory, or to opt out entirely.

Join the Purdue Alumni Association and the Boilermakers as they travel west this fall to take on the University of Arizona Wildcats:

Update your record...

Young Alumni Event page

Beginning August 6 through October 31, the Dick & Sandy Dauch Alumni Center will be open every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The Dauch Alumni Center is located on the corner of Grant and Wood streets. For more information visit:

Free lunch for members!
If you are coming to West Lafayette for the Notre Dame game on October 1st, stop by the Dick & Sandy Dauch Alumni Center and have lunch on PAA. From Noon until 3:00 pm, we will be serving Subway sandwiches to all members of The Alumni Association (Non-members can buy lunch for $5). If you know that you want a free lunch please RSVP by contacting Chad Johnson at 765-494-2603 or by email We will take walk-ins as long as there is food available.

Contact Us

Send your alumni news and thoughts on what you’d like to see in this e-newsletter to the Engineering Alumni Association at