June/July 2004 Newsletter

In this issue:

From the Dean Dean Katehi

The fourth year of Purdue's seven-year capital campaign to raise $ 1.3 billion has come to a close, and I'm delighted to report that the University surpassed its $ 225 million goal for 2003-04 by raising a record $ 229.5 million during the year. Not only that, but Purdue received 88,000 individual gifts--another record. Engineering alumni played a major part in helping us reach these goals, and I'd like to express my gratitude to you for your support of the College of Engineering and of Purdue. That support continues to bring excellence to Purdue Engineering in the form of outstanding students, outstanding faculty, outstanding academic programs, and distinguished centers for research.

I'd like to take a minute to highlight just one of those centers, the Center for Wireless Systems and Applications (CWSA), to illustrate the exciting work that your contributions make possible. CWSA was born in May 2002 and became a university-wide center in July 2003, with a mission to "conduct innovative and large-scale multidisciplinary research activities, educate tomorrow's engineering leaders, and provide an environment that fosters teamwork and strategic collaborations in the areas of wireless technologies, systems, and applications."


CWSA has attracted a lot of media and industry attention for its e-Stadium project, a joint project with ITaP (Information Technology at Purdue) and the Department of Athletics. The program enables fans at Purdue home football games to wirelessly access up-to-the-minute statistics, player and coach biographies, national sports information through ESPN.com, and other electronic "infotainment" using personal digital assistants, or PDAs. The center also has submitted several large-scale, multidisciplinary proposals to the National Science Foundation and the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. If funded, these proposals will provide more than $ 15M of support for research. And last but not least, we've created a new graduate-level area of specialization in Wireless Systems Engineering, created several new courses on wireless at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and developed, thanks to a grant from the Tellabs Foundation, 19 experiments to enhance four wireless-related graduate courses. We've awarded undergraduate scholarships funded by a grant from Lockheed Martin and awarded graduate assistantships funded by the Tellabs Foundation. These successes have transformed the wireless-related curriculum in a profound way.

We're poised to lead in the wireless area, thanks to CWSA and the many gifts that have put the people and the infrastructure in place to make it prosper. I look forward to seeing what accomplishments our 2004-05 year has in store.

Linda P.B. Katehi

P.S. A quick note about our modified format: We've created some new departments in order to help you find the information you're looking for more easily. Our "Engineering in the News" department covers notable happenings related to faculty, students, and the College in general, and our "Alumni News" department provides an opportunity for highlighting our alums' accomplishments and honors. We'll conclude our month-by-month look at Purdue Engineering's signature areas in the next issue, turning after that to exciting work going on in our academic centers.

Engineering in the News

Purdue AAE Undergrads, "Vomit Comet" Featured in New York Times
Purdue AAE undergraduates participating in the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunity Program saw their research project—a pipe that can be deployed in space as a conduit or boom—featured in the New York Times science section on June 8 ("Free From Gravity, These Students Taste Outer Space"). Steven Collicott, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and Hyonny Kim, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, taught and advised the students, who tested their design aboard NASA's KC-135 low-gravity plane, nicknamed the "Vomit Comet" for its nausea-inducing flight parabolas. (The Times article quotes two Purdue students on this most striking aspect of the NASA program: Brian Ventre—"I am so-o going to be the one who loses his lunch!"—and Rebecca Karnes : "I won't. I'm determined." Neither did.) For more on the Purdue students' experience, including photos of the students in flight, see www.livejournal.com/users/purduezerog/.

Demolition Makes Way for Millennium Engineering Building
At the corner of Stadium and Northwestern avenues on campus, the barracks-style buildings that housed much of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts are no more, demolished between February and June of this year (see photo) to make way for Purdue's Millennium Engineering Building. The new structure (see rendering), whose groundbreaking is scheduled for Homecoming weekend (October 16), will house the Department of Engineering Education , outreach programs , and the Schools of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Materials Engineering , among other units.

Signature Area Feature: Renewable Energy and Power Systems

Renewable Energy and Power Systems

This Purdue Engineering signature area (REPS) explores lasting energy options and advanced power systems. From the stationary power perspective, REPS researchers are looking at hydrogen; sustainable agricultural fuels that convert cellulose to alcohols; and innovative biologically based fuels.

Fuel cell technology looms as a breakthrough innovation, with potential applications ranging from laptops to automobiles. Shripad Revankar, associate professor of nuclear engineering, is working on that cutting edge. He developed a working fuel cell at Purdue and is teaching the university's inaugural class on the subject. "Fuel cells," Revankar says, "are an important enabling technology for the hydrogen future and the hydrogen economy. Widespread use of hydrogen as an energy source could help address concerns about energy security, global climate change, and air quality. Fuel cells are significantly more energy-efficient than combustion-based power generation technologies."

Purdue's Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering (LORRE) is an integrative center for biotechnology and engineering developing new technologies and processes for converting renewable resources to biofuels. "LORRE provides an environment and the leadership to catalyze multidisciplinary research for converting cellulose to sugars, genetically engineering microorganisms that readily transform sugars to fuels, separating ethanol from water in an energy-efficient, cost-effective manner," says lab director Michael Ladisch. "By using proteins as templates for synthesizing hydrolytic catalysts, we generate electricity directly from biologically derived molecules."

LORRE has also pioneered the use of corn to dry ethanol, yeast to ferment pentoses and hexoses to ethanol, water to pretreat cellulosic materials to render them susceptible to bioprocessing, and biomass to produce enzymes that catalyze the formation of sugars from cellulose. Several of these processes are in industrial use or testing.

Motive power applications within the REPS signature area will uncover alternatives for sustained fuels in automobiles, aircraft, spacecraft, and ship propulsion. Terrestrial power applications investigate a wide variety of alternatives ranging from thermionics to micro- and nano-photovoltaics to fuel cells.

September 2003 marked the beginning of a union between Rolls-Royce and Purdue. The Rolls-Royce University Technology Center at the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories will study the behavior of jet fuels at the high temperatures and pressures required for aircraft that could fly as fast as 5,000 miles per hour, or three to seven times the speed of sound.

The recently renovated High Pressure Laboratory within Zucrow Labs performs propulsion-related research on rockets, jet turbines, and other internal combustion engines. This one-of-a-kind facility has commenced full-scale research that includes work to develop engines for NASA's next-generation space shuttle. "Much of the research in this lab is sponsored by NASA and the U.S. Air Force and Army," says Stephen Heister, a professor in aeronautics and astronautics and co-chair of the REPS signature area.

Within high-Mach propulsion, new engines would allow the military to design aircraft able to strike distant moving targets without a base in the area. This same, high-speed technology could be applied to commercial aircraft, drastically reducing global travel time.

Alumni News

Here you'll read about the achievements and impact of Purdue engineering alumni. If you have news to contribute, whether about yourself or a friend or colleague who's an alum, please forward it to Cindy Lawley, Director of External Relations, at lawley@ecn.purdue.edu.


Young Alumni Event in Chicago, July 23
Meet your fellow Chicago Boilermakers at Joe's Sports Bar on Friday, July 23, from 6 to 9 p.m. (940 W. Weed St., www.joesbar.com, 312-337-3486). Free food and drinks! RSVP by July 19 to Kyle Bymaster (bymastkd@purdue.edu , 765-494-5269) or Suzanne Doughery (sjdougherty@purdue.edu , 800-414-1541).

Renewable Energy and Power Systems

"Brunch at the Brickyard" with Ryan Newman
Come join us at the Brickyard 400! As a Purdue Engineering alum, you are invited to our suite before the race for some good food, Purdue news, and a chance to meet Ryan Newman (BSIDE '01), NASCAR's 2002 Rookie of the Year. Packages include race ticket, breakfast with fellow Purdue Engineering alumni, and a meet and greet with Ryan Newman, for only $ 100. (Limit 175 guests.)

Sunday, August 8, 2004 9:00 am - 11:00 am at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Plaza Village, Pavilion 1C

For package information, contact Cindy Lawley at 765-496-6929 or lawley@ecn.purdue.edu by July 27, 2004.

Purdue Day at the Indiana State Fair
Stop by the fairgrounds in Indianapolis on August 18 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. for "Purdue Day at the Indiana State Fair." Look for the solar car, robotics exhibit, and Baja race car from the College of Engineering.


July 24, 2004

Campaign Regional Event
Chicago, IL
Time and location TBA

August 18

Purdue Day at the Indiana State Fair
State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

September 24

Alumni Reception
Cincinnati, Ohio
Time and location TBA

October 16

Homecoming Celebration, Purdue vs. Wisconsin
Alumni and friends welcome!
Engineering Tent, Engineering Mall, PU
Time TBA

October 22

Engineering Dean's Club Luncheon
Engineering Mall, Purdue

November 19

Engineering Alumni Association Service Awards
Time and location TBA

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 EAA@ecn.purdue.edu.