February 2004 Newsletter
FROM THE DEAN
Were at the start of a new year, and Id like to share with youas I have with our faculty and staffthe strategic goals that Purdue Engineering will be focusing on in 2004.
As you know, President Jischke has determined to take Purdue to the next level: preeminence. Engineering shares that goal. To help us achieve it, weve been working with a consulting firm, Lipman-Hearne, to assess where we currently stand. They completed interviews with more than 5,440 alumni, students, faculty and others and presented findings that reaffirm what we in Engineering have identified in our strategic plan as our four most critical areas of focus.
First, we must maintain the quality of the undergraduate education offered in the Schools of Engineering. Were developing innovative academic programs to continue to meet our students needs. One such programcalled SURF, for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowshipsprovides research experiences to seniors. Another programcalled EPICS, for Engineering Projects in Community Serviceoriginated in the Schools of Engineering and is becoming a university-wide program. Its also expanded to universities around the country. In addition, were aggressively working at increasing the diversity of our student body.
Our second area of focus is to improve the quality of the faculty and graduate student cohort. On the faculty side, were adding 75 new faculty positions over the next five years in Engineering. These new positions enable us to aggressively pursue our diversity goals. I dont think its a coincidence that the nations top engineering programs also have the most diverse faculties and student bodies. Its really a quality issue. Our new faculty positions are also improving the student-faculty ratio and allowing us to hire new, top-caliber faculty with special expertise in emerging areas of research. At Purdue, weve identified eight of these emerging areassuch as nanotechnology and tissue engineeringin which we intend to assume leadership.
On the graduate education side, were working hard to improve the quality and quantity of our domestic students and to improve our programs. Were reorganizing our Department of Continuing Engineering Education to include new professional programs, such as programs that combine engineering and management coursework.
Our third area of focus is to improve our research visibility. Weve got a growing number of research activities, including a number of new national research centers. Discovery Park, Purdues new research complex, will contain the Birck Nanotechnology Center. Im also pleased to note our High-Mach Propulsion Center, our Center for Cooling Technologies Research, and our Center for Wireless Systems and Applications, among others. All these centers are conducting important research, and were working hard to make sure that our colleagues and the nations funding agencies are aware of it.
Our fourth and final area of focus is infrastructure. Our facilities are a determining factor in whether we achieve our other goals. Were following a comprehensive, 10-year master facilities plan that calls for the renovation of every square inch of our facilities within the Schools of Engineeringand the expansion of our usable space by 60 percent. Our capital campaign, of course, will make that master facilities plan a reality, and it will make the rest of our strategic plan come to fruition.
Our faculty, staff, and students are truly excited about the changes taking place at Purdue, and we deeply appreciate the commitment and involvement of alumni like you. Together, we will achieve our vision of preeminence for Purdue and for Purdue Engineering.
Linda P.B. Katehi
ENGINEERS WEEK CALENDAR ON THE WEB
Learn about the exploration of Mars or the state of international trade. Check out the design problem posed by the Rube Goldberg Machine Contestand the variety of solutions students contrive. See the outstanding accomplishments of Purdue Engineering faculty and alumni receive well-deserved recognition.
All thatand morewill happen on campus during National Engineers Week (February 22-28), when Purdue Engineering presents a mix of seminars, lectures, and activities for students, faculty, engineering societies, alumni, and corporations. A complete listing of events is available at http://engineering.purdue.edu/national_eweek.
SIGNATURE AREA FEATURE
Tissue and Cellular Engineering
Tissue Mechanics: Alaina Pizzo, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, studies the mechanical properties of tissues.
Several factors have converged to push tissue and cellular engineering (TCE) into its signature area position at Purdue and push Purdue into a potential leadership position nationally and internationally:
- The potential to help large numbers of people
- Growing interest among faculty members and students
- Opportunities for sponsored funding from federal agencies
- Clearly defined needs of industrial partners
- The geographic location of several partners in Indiana, which makes for a natural relationship
- The reputation of Purdue engineering and its recent success in biomedical research and development
- The potential to increase the diversity of students and faculty in engineering
Purdue will focus on research and development in various subareas: real-time sensing and imaging of the structure, function, and dynamic characteristics of biological systems; probing and sensing the functions of and interactions between tissues, cells, and molecules; and engineering replacement tissue scaffolds with unique mechanical properties based on molecular design.
According to TCE co-chair George Wodicka, head of biomedical engineering, the history of the field illustrates the necessity of combining expertise from both engineering and science.
In order to develop replacement tissues, the mechanical properties of those tissues are vitally importanthow the properties change when the device is being constructed or once it has been implanted, he explains. These issues are critical in terms of functionality of a device itself, so mechanical engineering principles have been key to this field from the beginning.
On the other hand, replacement tissues for nerves raise a different set of concerns. In addition to the mechanical components, Wodicka says, the electrical properties of the replacement tissues need to be fully understood. That brings in the whole realm of electrical engineering.
The science factor in the equation bears on issues such as tissue function, cellular interactions, and subcellular phenomena that affect how replacement tissues are recognized by the body and how cells react to them.
At the molecular and cellular level we need tremendous engineering, yet the engineers also must understand the biological aspects of their workespecially about how the cells and tissues of the body react to the presence of an engineered tissue, says Klod Kokini, a professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering.
According to Kokini, tissue and cellular engineering has emerged as a distinct field in the context of treating and curing bodily damage and injuries. Many of the key challenges are related to soft tissues, ligaments, skin, et cetera, Kokini says. Tissue engineering looks to allow repair of these structures. The concept at this time is to develop materials by understanding the environment they are in, the relationship between these materials with cells and tissues in the body itself, and to engineer devices and systems that can be used as replacements for tissues. We also look at the relationship between the materials and the cells, which is the critical part of making tissues.
However, re-growing damaged knee cartilage for injured athletes or implanting retinal tissue for patients with macular degeneration may be just the tip of the iceberg of possibility. Ultimately the hope is to actually grow organs or allow the body to grow organs, Kokini says, although he concedes that such applications are years away.
The bottom line is that tissue and cellular engineering may benefit not only patients with previously incurable diseases or untreatable conditions, but also the businesses and industries trying to help them.
|February 19, 2004||
Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards
|February 20, 2004||
Outstanding Industrial Engineering Alumni Award Dinner
|February 23, 2004||
New Faces of Engineering Lecture
|February 24, 2004||
Purdue Schools of Engineering Lecture Series
|February 25, 2004||
National Engineers Week Party
|February 26, 2004||
Engineering Gift Announcements
|February 27, 2004||
The Outlook for International Trade: The Future of Jobs, Technology and Economic Growth Brian Lamb, moderator
|February 28, 2004||
Faculty Recognition Reception and Banquet North Ballroom, PMU
|February 28, 2004||
Rube Goldberg Machine Contest (Local)
Send your alumni news and thoughts on what you’d like to see in this e-newsletter to the Engineering Alumni Association at EAA@ecn.purdue.edu.