March 2004 Newsletter

In this issue:


Back in January, we mentioned Purdue's planned participation in National Engineers Week during the week of February 22. I'm pleased to offer you a glimpse into a number of events that educated and inspired students, alumni, and faculty as we celebrated the engineering profession:

McGinnis photo
Erin McGinnis

Erin McGinnis (BSIE '02), of Northrop Grumman, presented the lecture "How to Get Your Engineering Career Started Out Right…and My Experiences on the Joint Strike Fighter." This alumna—honored as one of America's "New Faces of Engineering" for 2004—offered students eight personal suggestions for jump-starting their careers, including make yourself visible early and overkill your first assignment. "We judge ourselves by our intentions," she observed, "but others' judgments are made mostly by our actions."

Spencer photo
David Spencer

David Spencer (BSAAE '89, MSAAE '91), deputy manager of flight systems at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, delivered the presentation "The Mars Exploration Program." From robotic missions to future human exploration of the Red Planet, students learned about the history and the next stages of our space program's Martian missions.

Dean Katehi helps Heddy Kurz put handprints in concrete
Heddy Kurz and Dean Linda Katehi

I had the privilege of announcing gifts to Engineering from Heddy Kurz, whose late husband, Herman, earned a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1925, and from Edward Curtis and Jan Curtis Spayth, whose father received a civil engineering degree from Purdue in 1925. Mrs. Kurz's $ 1.9 million gift will fund the Herman and Heddy Kurz Atrium of our New Millennium Engineering Building. The Curtis family's $ 1.25 million gift will fund the Edward M. Curtis Professorship in Civil Engineering. Two other generous donors added to the Curtis family's gift to bring the total to $ 1.5 million, which enables us to receive another named chair for Civil Engineering, through the Bindley matching program for faculty chairs.

Lamb moderating panel
Brian Lamb moderates Purdue's International Trade Seminar

A distinguished panel of experts participated in "The Outlook for International Trade: The Future of Jobs, Technology, and Economic Growth," a seminar moderated by Purdue alumnus Brian Lamb of C-Span. Other participants included Mike Eskew (BSIE '72), head of UPS; Mickey Kantor, Mack McLarty, the Chinese and Singaporean ambassadors to the U.S., and Canada's ambassador to the World Trade Organization. This event provided a remarkable opportunity for us to learn lessons of globalization from major players on the world stage—right here in West Lafayette.

We presented "Awards of Excellence" at our second annual Faculty Recognition Banquet. This year's recipients: Robert E. Montgomery (Advising); Marlin U. Thomas (Engagement/Service); Robert J. Bernhard (Mentoring); C. T. Sun (Research); Thomas J. Webster (Young Researcher); Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education—Beate I. Allert, Dianne L. Atkinson, Eckhard A. Groll, E. Daniel Hirleman, Wei Hong, Jerry L. Matthews, and Lisa X. Xu (Team); and Deborah K. Follman (Dean A. A. Potter Award for Undergraduate Teaching).

We're continuing this annual participation in National Engineers Week, and I encourage you to keep posted to learn of ways you can take part in the activities on campus that build and support our engineering program

Linda P.B. Katehi

Nanotechnologies and Nanophotonics

Shuiqing Hu working
High-speed delivery: Shuiqing Hu, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student works with Professor Arvind Raman on developing novel techniques for the high-speed measurement of nanoscale mechanical properties of materials such as thin films, biological membranes and cells. Researchers rely on atomic force microscopy, a high precision electromechanical tool for nanoscale characterization of micron and submicron structures.

"Nanotechnology, or the growing ability to precisely manipulate matter and energy at molecular scales, will enable better computers to design better machines and also allow us to build better machines through better materials and more functionality," says Dan Hirleman, the William E. and Florence E. Perry Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering, and co-chair of the NANO signature area. "Some of the machines will be nanomachines or nanobots; others will be large machines scaled up from nanoscale devices and components."

Purdue's NANO initiative emphasizes interdisciplinary research among scientists and engineers with a goal of developing transferable technology. In pursuing this vision, Purdue is making an unprecedented investment in personnel, facilities, equipment, and programs.

  • The Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC) is scheduled to open in 2005. The $ 54 million center will integrate Purdue's research and technology transfer efforts in nanoscale science and engineering. The interdisciplinary scope of the center is extensive—bringing together aeronautical, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, electrical, industrial, materials, and mechanical engineers with scientists from biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science as well as researchers from agriculture, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine. Altogether, nearly a hundred Purdue faculty from 25 different departments will join efforts.
  • The Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing (INAC), which will be housed in the BNC, has a 10-year mission to develop molecular computing devices en route to trillion-device integrated computer systems with intelligence, adaptability, and fault tolerance for use by NASA in future space projects.
  • The Network for Computational Nanotechnology, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and centered at Purdue, will address key challenges to building integrated nanosystems by linking theory, modeling, simulation, and computation with experimental work. New computational tools will be shared with the research community through a unique web-based computing system.
  • The Center for Sensing Science and Technology, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, focuses on research and development in the detection of chemical and biological agents and explosives, as well as homeland and military installation security.

"Precise and fast manipulation of matter and energy at the molecular scale requires tools and facilities that are very different from those we needed in the past," says Hirleman. "For example, an invisible 50-nanometer diameter dust particle is a mere annoyance in manufacturing an airplane, but it becomes a cold-blooded killer in a nanomanufacturing process. Nanotechnology research and education require vastly different laboratories and equipment."

Purdue will distinguish itself in the crowded nanotech field by:

  • Focusing on nanosystems integration and the conversion of nanoscience into nanotechnology;
  • Emphasizing products and applications at the interface among biology, biomedical engineering, and nanotechnology;
  • Building the most integrated interdisciplinary teams;
  • Incorporating technology transfer, assessment, and marketing;
  • Creating tight links between theory, modeling, simulation, and computation on one hand and experimental work on the other; and
  • Developing the finest facilities to support research and technology transfer.

"In the past it has been easier, though not necessarily advisable, to segregate the components into mechanical, electrical, et cetera, and not worry about the interactions until near the end of the design process," Hirleman says. "But nanotechnology-enabled building block components will themselves be inherently interdisciplinary. Hence, teams that design and manufacture systems will increasingly involve physicists, chemists, biologists, along with engineers from the very beginning."

"Purdue's goal is to focus on a few things and be the best in the world at those—to really make a difference," says Hirleman.


April 3

National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest
Doors open at 10:30 a.m., competition at 11 a.m.
Lambert Fieldhouse

April 12

Engineering Community Service Blood Drive
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., MSEE Atrium
This competition among Purdue's engineering schools is a community service project for the Schools of Engineering.

April 13

Student E-Week Carnival
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Engineering Mall
Fun, games, and competitions for engineering students.

April 14

50th Anniversary of Freshman Engineering
9 a.m. to 11 a.m., South Ballroom, PMU
Engineering education experts will discuss the past and the future of engineering education.

April 15

Amy Ross Lecture
2:30 p.m., Fowler Hall, Stewart Center

April 16

Distinguished Engineering Alumni Convocation
1:30 p.m., Fowler Hall, Stewart Center

April 17

Engineering Gala Brunch
10 a.m. to noon, MSEE Atrium

April 17

ENvision (Spring Fest)
9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Memorial Mall/Bell Tower

April 18

PSEF Engineering Alumni Golf Tourney
Coyote Crossing

April 23

Regional Alumni Event–Philadelphia, PA
6:30 p.m., Union League of Philadelphia. Contact: University Special Events, 765-494-1782.

April 24

Regional Alumni Event–Washington, DC
7 p.m., National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Contact: University Special Events, 765-494-1782.

April 30

Regional Alumni Event–Boston, MA
6:30 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts. Contact: University Special Events, 765-494-1782.

April 30

Regional Alumni Event–New York, NY
TBA. Contact: University Special Events, 765-494-1782.

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