Purdue Engineering Impact Magazine Spring 2010

College of Engineering Trend setters - leading by risky example

As we settle into 2010, I am extremely optimistic about the opportunities that are unfolding before us, occasionally tempered by uncertainty about the international, national, state, and local financial outlooks. In the balance, I firmly believe that the energy and creativity that are reflected in the college’s strategic plan will carry the day: that we will build on our successes of 2009, chart a course in some exciting blue oceans, and succeed in developing the resources we need to enable our envisioned future of an empowered community making global impact.

We are poised to meet the needs of the planet through transformative, field-defining research and a climate that both encourages and supports risk-taking endeavor. In this issue of Engineering Impact, the cover story introduces three members of the Purdue Engineering family whose innovations are setting new standards — one is a veteran faculty member, one is a rising star, and the third is a graduate who is blazing trails at the University of Florida.

Four of our faculty members have been recognized with NSF Presidential Early Career Awards in Science and Engineering (PECASE). Monica Cox, one of the faculty members profiled in the cover story, was presented with the award at the White House in January for her outstanding contributions to the discipline of engineering education. She joins Doug Adams, professor of mechanical engineering, who won the award in 2002; Shirley Dyke, professor of mechanical engineering and civil engineering, who was a PECASE awardee in 1998; and John Sutherland, professor of mechanical engineering and head of the division of environmental and ecological engineering, who won the award in 1996. Such talented, innovative minds will, in turn, inspire creative approaches by a new generation of engineers.

Creativity, with a certain degree of risk, is definitely not confined to the classroom and laboratory. Last August, two of our graduates began a yearlong trip together around the world. They are featured in this issue, and you can follow them on their blog. Undergraduate Eduardo Anzueto left campus last year and took to the field, literally, in Costa Rica to learn about sustainable agriculture.

In order to have lasting impact in the complex world of the 21st century, it is imperative that current and future engineers undertake innovative, risk-taking and transformative research. The College of Engineering not only encourages this, but has declared it a strategic goal: “Taking risks, fueling innovation by creating an environment that stimulates curiosity, fosters risk-taking, and provides intellectual space and freedom to explore and evolve ideas to see where they will lead.”

As you’ll read, our students, staff, faculty, and alumni are doing their part to help us reach this goal.

Leah H. Jamieson
John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering
Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Trend Setters: Leading by Risky Example
April 13, 2010
Research, by its very nature, involves investigating the unknown with the hope of fruitful discovery.
Risk-Taking Research and the Academy
April 13, 2010
Jacob Jones (BSME ’99, MSME ’01, PhD ’04) is assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Florida. He is a recipient of a 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Innovative and Transformative Research Defined
April 13, 2010
Science progresses in two fundamental and equally valuable ways. The vast majority of scientific understanding advances incrementally, with new projects building upon the results of previous studies or testing long-standing hypotheses and theories.
Sustainability in Tropical Agriculture: Training Practitioners
April 13, 2010
Summer study in Costa Rica
Bouncing between doctoral work and coaching
April 13, 2010
James Hunter and Jamal Ratchford have spent the majority of their lives in two places: inside a school and on the soccer field.
From dessert to defense, agriculture to airplanes
April 13, 2010
Early in his undergraduate career at Michigan State University, Paul Sojka decided his chosen discipline, physics, was not going to be a big money maker. So, after completing a bachelor’s degree in physics, Sojka moved on to Plan B — mechanical engineering.
Advancing the efficiency and economics of biofuels
April 13, 2010
Much like the reactions they accelerate, catalysts are increasing the rate of progress within the biofuels area — a focus that links computational chemist Kendall Thomson’s research with Purdue’s new Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC).
Passion for Energy Issues Drives Gift To Support Research
April 13, 2010
Fred Fehsenfeld Sr. has a favorite topic: Energy. It was his professional focus for nearly 50 years and in his retirement remains a personal preoccupation related to a great concern for securing the nation’s energy future.
Partnership Funds Biofuel Research
April 13, 2010
As his company gears up for innovative engineering challenges, John Storm (BSMetE ’77), founder and president of Indianapolis-based Contour Hardening Inc., has recruited a team he knows and respects: researchers at Purdue’s new Center for Metal Casting Research (PCMC).
Center shakes up earthquakes
April 13, 2010
The earthquake that struck Haiti in January registered 7.0 on the Richter scale, a shock that resulted in thousands of deaths and huge destruction. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 124 major earthquakes have occurred throughout the world in the past decade. Major earthquakes are generally accepted to register a magnitude in excess of 7.0 on the Richter scale and inflict serious damage, including the collapse of buildings and bridges, over a large area. The organization estimates that earthquakes were responsible for 463,959 deaths in the past decade. A new center at Purdue will take aim at such gross loss of life and property.
Ferropaper: low-cost option for small motors, robots
April 13, 2010
A ferropaper developed at Birck Nanotechnology Center could lead to a low-cost way of making small stereo speakers, miniature robots or motors for a variety of potential applications, including tweezers to manipulate cells and flexible fingers for minimally invasive surgery.
Method cuts costs at refineries
April 13, 2010
Refineries could trim millions of dollars in energy costs annually by using a new method developed by a team of Purdue researchers to rearrange the distillation sequence needed to separate crude petroleum into products.
What does ChE theory have to do with CEO pay?
April 13, 2010
Chief executives in 35 of the top Fortune 500 companies were overpaid by about 129 times their “ideal salaries” in 2008, according to a new type of theoretical analysis proposed by chemical engineering professor Venkat Venkatasubramanian as a means of determining fair CEO compensation.
Laser processes promise better artificial joints, arterial stents
April 13, 2010
Researchers at Purdue’s Center for Laser-Based Manufacturing are developing technologies that use lasers to create arterial stents and longer-lasting medical implants that could be manufactured 10 times faster and more cost efficiently than is now possible.
IE grad tackles national education reform
April 13, 2010
Anthony Miller hit the ground running a year ago and hasn’t stopped yet.
Home away from home
April 13, 2010
We drop in on Henry Zhang, a biomedical engineering senior from Mishawaka, Indiana, who is getting ready to meet with his advisor to schedule spring semester classes.
The nomadic life of two engineering grads
April 13, 2010
One is a foodie, who is afraid of heights. The other zips in and out of traffic on his motorcycle on San Francisco freeways, gets bored with the status quo, and would rather experience things first-hand than through the filter of television or a book. Together, they are two Purdue Engineering alums traveling the world for a year.
Hot wheels, cool idea
April 13, 2010
First-year engineering students Jim Danielson and Sean Kleinschmidt spent the summer of 2009 (before their freshman year at Purdue), converting a Porsche with a blown engine into an electric-powered vehicle.
Funds Electrify Vehicle Research
April 13, 2010
Indiana’s long history as a leader in the electrification of vehicles is likely to continue with support from a $6.1 million grant from U.S. stimulus funds.
Here we grow again: Two more astronauts join Purdue flight archives
April 13, 2010
The frontiers of Purdue’s flight archives continue to grow, with the addition of gifts from two more alumni astronauts — Janice Voss and Roy Bridges Jr.
Time Well Spent: The Life and Legacy of Les Geddes
April 13, 2010
Not long before his passing on Oct. 25, 2009, at the age of 88, Leslie Geddes dutifully arrived at Purdue every day at 5 a.m., working on his three ongoing projects, including research to improve cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Success is set in stone
April 13, 2010
No small petri dish for this experiment.