May 2003 Newsletter

In this issue:


Last month I reported the good news of Purdue engineering’s rankings—ninth overall—in the U.S. News & World Report 2003 survey of graduate schools. This month I had the distinct pleasure of handing some 1,000 engineering students their hard-earned Purdue diplomas at commencement. Are the two related? I’d say yes. Our engineering graduates enter the world with first-rate academic preparation, strong leadership skills, and a desire to make their mark. Their level of preparedness, and their confidence, stems directly from the quality of our Schools of Engineering.

Our 67,000 living Purdue engineering alumni work in exciting and productive careers all over the world—and even beyond it. Mary Ellen Weber, a Purdue alumna, is a NASA astronaut who has logged more than 450 hours in space. Another Purdue engineer—Bob Peterson—is vice president of animation for Pixar. He’s part of a team that won an Academy Award for an animated short film. Ryan Newman graduated a few years ago in interdisciplinary engineering with a major in vehicle-structure engineering and was named the NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 2002. It’s estimated that one in six Purdue engineering graduates has the title of director, vice president, president, or CEO.

Clearly, Purdue’s new engineering alumni will make their own paths. They’ll achieve in ways that perhaps no one before them ever has. And they’ll discover—like their forerunners—that the label “Purdue engineer” commands respect and even opens doors in ways that they hadn’t anticipated.

Linda Katehi

John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering


On Saturday, May 17, the Schools of Engineering presented the doctorate of engineering, honoris causa, to three recipients:

John Atalla

Dr. John Atalla has distinguished himself as an engineer, innovator, entrepreneur, and visionary in the field of fabrication processes for semiconductor devices and computer data security. He is known as the “father of the PIN,” an acknowledgment of his development of the Personal Identification Number system in information security management. He is currently the chairman of A4 Systems. He received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1947 and a doctorate in 1949.

Joel Spira

Mr. Joel Spira has earned recognition for his lifelong entrepreneurial success, innovations in electromechanical product development and commercialization, and support for higher education. He is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Lutron Electronics Company, the world’s leading producer of electronic lighting controls for industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential applications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Purdue in 1948, and he has supported the Schools of Engineering through the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Committee, the Ruth and Joel Spira Laboratory for Electromechanical Systems, and teaching awards in the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Charles Taylor

Dr. Charles Taylor has earned recognition for his contributions as a pioneering researcher in photoelasticity and holography and as a gifted mentor who produced a new generation of mechanicists. Dr. Taylor is retired, following a distinguished career as a professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois and as a professor of engineering science at the University of Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1946 and his master’s in engineering mechanics in 1948. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1979.

Coming to Chicago and the Indiana State Fair

Purdue’s nationwide road trips—“Purdue Days Across America”—continue with a stop in Chicago on June 14 followed by a stop in Indianapolis at the Indiana State Fair on August 13. Contact:

14Purdue Day in Chicago
13Purdue Day at the State Fair

September 26Dean's Club Luncheon
October 5EAA Service Awards

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