September 2003 Newsletter

In this issue:


It’s September, and the excitement of a new academic year—for our students and for our faculty—is palpable. I’m proud to announce that this year’s freshman class, at 1,557 members strong, is the most academically able and the most diverse class we’ve seen in eight years.

Adding to that excitement are a number of happenings that I’d like to share with you. U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of undergraduate programs are out, and we’re delighted to see seven of our nine programs in the top 10 and an overall 9th-place showing. Specifically, Purdue ranked #1 in agricultural engineering, #2 in industrial/manufacturing engineering, #5 in nuclear engineering, #6 in civil engineering, #6 in aerospace/aeronautical, #7 in mechanical engineering, and #8 in electrical/electronic/computer engineering (scroll down for more). This showing is no coincidence: it’s the result of the commitment, excellence, and creativity of our faculty.

We’re also pleased to celebrate a number of events coming up in Purdue’s “theme week,” from September 26 through October 5. During this period (see calendar), we’ll welcome to campus our Engineering Dean’s Club, whose members faithfully support the Schools of Engineering financially each year. We’ll witness the ground-breaking for our new Biomedical Engineering building and our Multidisciplinary Engineering Building, and we’ll dedicate the new Bowen Civil Engineering High-Performance Lab. We’ll see the continuing progress of the Chemical Engineering building addition, and we’ll celebrate the announcement of several major gifts to the Schools of Engineering. A banquet honoring this year’s Engineering Alumni Association Service Award recipients will complete this week of festivities.

Purdue engineering is on the move, and the enthusiastic participation of our alumni accounts for a big part of our momentum. I invite you to come back to campus and see our progress for yourself!

Linda P.B. Katehi
Dean of Engineering


Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is ranked first in the nation for its undergraduate agricultural engineering program, according to U.S. News and World Report magazine’s annual rankings released August 22.

The ranking for specialty programs, such as agricultural engineering, is based on a survey of educators at schools of engineering across the country. The magazine, in its spring 2003 edition, also ranked Purdue's agricultural and biological engineering graduate program second nationally.

Some significant advances to come from Purdue's agricultural and biological engineering faculty involve alternative and renewable sources of energy from plants such as corn and soybeans, according to department head Vince Bralts. "In the future, materials such as plastics made from fossil fuels will be supplanted with renewable materials such as biopolymers," Bralts said. "Biomaterials could represent a significant industry for Indiana in the coming decades."

ABE student Linna Wang tests the mechanical properties of an edible, biodegradable film she has developed using a protein associated with soybean oil. This film may be used as a biodegradable alternative to the plastics typically used in food packaging. (Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)

Other Purdue engineering rankings:

  • No. 2 in industrial/manufacturing engineering
  • No. 5 in nuclear engineering (tied with North Carolina State, Texas A&M and the University of Illinois)
  • No. 6 in civil engineering
  • No. 6 in aerospace/aeronautical
  • No. 7 in mechanical engineering
  • No. 8 in electrical/electronic/computer engineering
  • Tied for No. 11 in materials engineering (with Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Tied for No. 12 in chemical engineering (with Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • No. 13 in computer engineering


UTC Dedication
Ribbon cutting for University Technology Center

On September 4, Purdue and Rolls-Royce celebrated the dedication of the University Technology Center (UTC). The center, which opened at Zucrow Labs in February as the first Rolls-Royce UTC established in the United States, enables researchers to collaborate on propulsion technologies for future aircraft. Shown here, graduate student Thomas Martin, Dean Linda P. B. Katehi, Dr. Mike Howse (Rolls-Royce’s director of engineering and technology), Provost Sally Mason, and Professor Stephen Heister participate in the ribbon cutting. Dr. Howse went on to deliver the fifth annual Boeing Distinguished Lecture, sponsored by the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, on gas turbine developments.


Kamyar Haghighi

We’re pleased to welcome KAMYAR HAGHIGHI, a Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering (ABE), as our new head of the Department of Freshman Engineering, effective July 1. Professor Haghighi received his MS in agricultural engineering and a dual PhD in applied mechanics and agricultural engineering from Michigan State University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in machine design and finite element analysis and has won several local and national teaching and education awards, including the SAE Ralph E. Teeter Educational award. His research focuses on mechanical design and mathematical simulation and modeling of biological, environmental, mechanical and food systems and processes. Professor Haghighi has been involved with the leadership of undergraduate programs within the ABE department for many years and led the department through a successful ABET outcome-based assessment and accreditation. He succeeds Professor Jennifer Curtis in this new appointment.

Arvind Varma

We also welcome ARVIND VARMA as the next head of the School of Chemical Engineering, effective January 1, 2004. His most recent position was as the Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Director, Center for Molecularly Engineered Materials, at the University of Notre Dame. A recipient of the 1993 R. H. Wilhelm Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, he is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and of the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers. He has held visiting faculty appointments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; California Institute of Technology; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; University of Cagliari, Italy; Princeton University; and the University of Minnesota. He earned his doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1972, an MS in chemical engineering from the University of New Brunswick in 1968, and a BS in chemical engineering from Panjab University in 1966.


Boilermaker Special
Take a Ride!

Come back to campus for Homecoming 2003 and see the Boilermakers battle the Fighting Illini. You'll also be able to see for yourself our progress on the Engineering Master Facilities Plan: the Chemical Engineering addition is rising, and the Bowen Civil Engineering High-Performance Lab is completed.

Homecoming events:

Friday, October 3
7 p.m. - Night Train Homecoming Parade
8 p.m. - Pep rally, Slayter Hill

Saturday, October 4
Entertainment and displays: 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
March to stadium: 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.


September 16-17Industrial Roundtable (corporate campus recruitment)
September 26Annual Dean's Club Luncheon
September 26Biomedical Engineering Groundbreaking Ceremony
September 30Gift Announcement for the Schools of Engineering
October 3Dedication of the Bowen High-Performance Lab
October 5Engineering Alumni Association Service Awards Banquet

Contact Us

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