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ENE Memo: August 27, 2012

From the Head: 8/27

Nerdy Engineer: Courageous Pioneer: Modest Hero

Armstrong looking at night sky
Making the impossible possible

On Saturday, August 25, we lost the best-known Purdue alum, the first person to step onto another world. Neil Armstrong was a global hero, yet he was very humble and modest. He was a pioneer of aviation; before he was an astronaut, he was a test pilot who flew the X-15 to the edge of space. He described himself in a characteristically self-deprecating way as a "white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer." 

It is truly inspiring to be able to come to work each day in Armstrong Hall. The name reminds us that we walk in the footsteps of a hero who took calculated risks to advance knowledge. Working in this building reminds us that we should "reach for the stars," literally or metaphorically, in all we do and achieve the seemingly impossible. We should push the envelope and not settle for the existing boundaries of what is considered possible; challenge assumptions and not settle for second best. But in being bold and achieving amazing things, it behooves each of us to be modest in our accomplishments. We should appreciate that our individual success builds on those who came before us, and it also depends on those who travel with us. 

The following statement from his family captures their and our loss and the inspirational legacy of Neil Armstrong:

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

“Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

“Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

“As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

The picture, taken last fall, is Neil Armstrong as a student eyeing the moon and imagining what could be given sufficient imagination, hard work, courage and persistence.

Neil Armstrong inspires the very best in all of us; he challenges us to selflessly serve a cause greater than ourselves.

- David

Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

News and Information: 8/27

Update on Volunteer Policy (PLEASE TAKE NOTE)

The new Purdue Volunteer Policy and what each of us is responsible for was the subject of an earlier ENE Memo and a recent email (8/16/2012 at 8:18am)

On August 22, Alysa Rollock (Purdue's Vice President for Ethics and Compliance) conducted a Q&A session on the volunteer policy with the deans. The good news is that faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students are now exempt. As listed in the updated policy (see, also exempt are volunteer lecturers, adjunct faculty members, associate staff members, affiliate staff appointees and visiting scholar appointees, guest lecturers/speakers, and human subject research participants.

On the other hand, advisory councils (like our E2IAC) are still required to gain clearance. However, this aspect of the policy is under review, and a request to exempt advisory councils has been made. In the interim, while a decision is pending, an extension of the deadline has been granted until December 31, 2012, for implementing the volunteer policy as it applies to advisory councils. So this is good news, for now.

Please stay tuned for further developments.

This Week's Seminar

A Rigorous Methodology for Developing Concept Inventories: An Example from the Thermal and Transport Sciences

Dr. Ruth Streveler
School of Engineering Education, Purdue University
Thu, Aug 30, 2012; 3:30-4:20pm; Armstrong Hall, B071

Welcome, Dr. Michael C. Loui

We're very pleased to welcome Dr. Michael C. Loui of the University of Illinois as a visiting scholar this year. A professor of electrical and computer engineering, as well as the Journal of Engineering Education's new editor, Dr. Loui has taken up (daytime) residence in ARMS 1339. You can find out about his sabbatical and research goals here.

The Year Ahead 2012-13

The overview of the year ahead presented at the ENE Research Seminar on August 23 by Dr. Radcliffe is available here. This version includes links to further reading. Many of the issues covered in this talk were covered in more detail over the summer in the "Year Ahead" series in the ENE Memo and are summarized in a retrospective.

Calendar: 8/27

Fall 2012

  • Aug 30 - ENE Research Seminar, ARMS BO71, 3:30pm
  • Sept 28 - Inaugural ENE First Year Friday (A celebration of FYE)
  • Sept 27-29 - Alumni Weekend
  • Sept  29 - Family Day (ENE Booth promoting FYE, MDE and IDES)
  • Oct 12-14 - Homecoming Weekend (ENE Booth and i2i Learning Lab Tours)
  • Oct 24/25 - PhD Open House
  • Nov 1 - 2nd Annual ENE Interdisciplinary Colloquium - "Where did I leave my chariot?"
  • Nov 2 - Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council (E2IAC) - Theme: Research

National or Independence Days around the World

If you know someone from any of these countries, wish them all the best for the celebrations of their national day.

To suggest content for future issues of ENE Memo, contact David Radcliffe or Lisa Tally by midday Friday for the following week's issue.