October-December 2004 Newsletter

In this issue:

From the Dean Dean Katehi

October 16 was probably the most celebratory Homecoming that Purdue Engineering has seen in a long time. The formal groundbreaking for our newest building came complete with the announcement that this magnificent facility would be named for Purdue’s—and Purdue Engineering’s—most inspiring alumnus, Neil Armstrong (see “Engineering in the News,” below, and this video report). The plans for our Millennium Engineering Building, now to be named the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, call for an innovative, state-of-the-art facility that promotes interactions between students and faculty and that brings research into the classroom.

Armstrong Hall will house our School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, our School of Materials Engineering, our Department of Engineering Education, our diversity programs for women and minorities, and our EPICS program (Engineering Projects in Community Service). Given its location at the corner of Stadium and Northwestern avenues, as well as the many students and parents who will walk through its doors, the facility will form an impressive gateway into Purdue Engineering.

The celebratory month continued with our dedication, on October 22, of the new addition to the Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering, followed by our annual Engineering Dean’s Club Luncheon—our opportunity to express our thanks to our loyal donors.

Because your private giving underlies all that we do—from funding scholarships to building buildings—I’d like to take this opportunity to share the names and e-mail addresses of our development and alumni relations staff:

These advancement officers are ready to help you with any questions about Purdue Engineering and about how your support can work to continue the advances we’ve already seen put into place. As always, we deeply appreciate your support, and we’re enthusiastic about what that support can make happen for Purdue.

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

Armstrong Hall
Architect's rendering of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering

Engineering in the News

On October 16, the University broke ground on its newest engineering building and announced it will name the facility after its most famous alumnus, Neil Armstrong.

“I can’t imagine a more fitting name for this building that not only will serve as the gateway to our internationally recognized College of Engineering but also its School of Aeronautics and Astronautics,” said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke during Homecoming celebrations. “The Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering will be engineering’s crown jewel, worthy to bear the name of the first person to walk on the moon.”

And a bit of the moon will also come to Purdue. Martha Chaffee, whose husband Roger was one of two Purdue Engineering alumni to die during a simulated test for the Apollo I mission, will give a moon rock to be housed in Neil Armstrong Hall.

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke uses a Caterpillar back-hoe to break ground for the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at a ceremony on Oct. 16, 2004.

Jischke also announced that Caterpillar Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction and miningequipment diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines, is giving Purdue $ 5 million, a portion of which will complete the private fund raising needed to start construction of the $ 47.7 million facility. Other leading donors to the building include Purdue alumni Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., Kenneth O. Johnson and Heddy Kurz, whose late husband was a Purdue alumnus. Many of Purdue’s surviving astronaut alumni made gifts or had gifts made in their honor.

The new facility, previously known as the Millennium Engineering Building, will be built near the southeast corner of the intersection of Northwestern and Stadium avenues at the site of the four recently razed visual and performing arts buildings. In addition to the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Armstrong Hall will house the School of Materials Engineering and the Department of Engineering Education. The building also will house the Minorities in Engineering Program, Women in Engineering Program and Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS).

Signature Area Feature: Information, Communications, and Perception Technologies (ICPT)

ICPT is everything to do with the flow of information,” notes Patricia Davies, co-chair of the ICPT signature area and professor of mechanical engineering. “Our research strengths include acquisition, processing and storage, transmission, human perception of stimuli and information processing, human-machine communication, and simulated environments for engineering design.”

Concrete lifecycle prediction experiment
Image Quality Control: Under the direction of Professor George Chiu, mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Cheng-Lun Chen looks to improve print quality for digital printing systems. He’s combining human visual perception and mechatronics by integrating the human visual contrast sensitivity model into the design and control of electromechanical systems.

Five research areas of ICPT form two subgroups:

  • Human-computer interaction, perception-based engineering, and synthetic engineering environments

  • Dependable computing and wireless systems/applications.

With renovations at Herrick Laboratory soon under way, the College of Engineering will operate in what will be one of the foremost perception-based engineering laboratories in the world. Perception engineering eliminates or decreases engine noise by understanding not just volume or intensity but also tonality, spectral balance, and amplitude and frequency fluctuations.

Collaborations among mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering and psychology are also improving services and support processes using human factor techniques. “Human factors are also very critical in developing systems that are usable,” states Karthik Ramani, professor of mechanical engineering. “As part of the ongoing cyberinfrastructure initiative, we want to know how to use all this information in an efficient way that enables us to design machines well.”

“Much of our research uses intensively large computer simulations with fairly high computational demands,” says Davies. “It becomes more critical to consider how people want to use their computers in order to better design and optimize computer systems.”

Speech and signal processing research is addressing better computer interfaces to build machines that are perceptive in terms of understanding and interpreting speech. Audio synthesis research is also under way to develop algorithms for synthesizing natural speech and audio sounds. In the dependable computing and wireless systems/applications subgroup, research focuses on providing reliable, usable computing and communications infrastructure.

The Center for Wireless Systems and Applications (CWSA) is the focal point for Purdue’s multidisciplinary research in wireless communications and technologies. Research in wireless sensor networks, for example, focuses on a large range of issues due to the broad set of expertise brought by CWSA members on system aspects, smart antennas, energy-related issues, reliable middleware, and cross-layer interactions.

Alumni News

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


December 18

BoilerBlockbuster Basketball Tournament
Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Women's game: 4:30 p.m.; men's game: 7 p.m.

December 19

Engineering Send-off
Celebration for graduating engineering students.
Purdue Memorial Union
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

December 31

Sun Bowl
For more information, see the Purdue Bowl Tours web site

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.