Section Investments in Infrastructure
When Max W. Brown (BSEE ’70) returned to Purdue in 2013 for the first time in more than 40 years, he hardly recognized the campus. Gone were the World War II-era Quonset huts that stood where Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering is now located. Gone too was the power plant smokestack that once dominated the landscape.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of construction,” Brown says. “I was impressed with the modernization and how these new buildings are preparing students for the future.”
Two of those students belong to Max and his wife, Maileen, — Max G., who earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2018, and Ash, in her junior year, studying electrical engineering technology. Their experiences at Purdue, combined with Brown’s own time in West Lafayette, prompted the couple to make a generous gift to help transform yet another place on campus: the Materials and Electrical Engineering Building (MSEE).
A new “front door”
Originally completed in 1989, MSEE features a large, open atrium with spectacular views toward the Purdue Mall. In 2017, it began undergoing major updates to become more student-centered. The Browns’ gift is funding the renovation of the student commons area on the first floor.
“It’s not well-utilized right now,” Brown says. “These renovations will make the atrium a welcoming place for students to meet, study, socialize and interact.”
The complete first-floor upgrade includes more accessible advising and administrative offices for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering — the largest school at Purdue and one of the biggest in the nation. In addition, an outdated computer lab is transforming into a new Student Design Studio, a flexible space supporting collaboration, research and design projects, and presentations.
“The Max W. Brown Atrium inside MSEE will be the perfect ‘front door’ for ECE,” says Venkataramanan (Ragu) Balakrishnan, the former Michael and Katherine Birck Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The school has grown significantly since MSEE was built, and the new configuration will help us accommodate our growing undergraduate student population.”
A family legacy
Despite his long absence from campus, Brown always recognized that his time in West Lafayette helped shape his success. He began his career — which took him from Texas to Hong Kong to California — as a design engineer, creating some of the earliest metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) single-chip integrated circuits, including an eight-bit microprocessor, digital clock and floating point calculator circuits. Later, Brown started a company selling high-tech electronic components.
When his children followed in his footsteps by attending Purdue, he wanted to show his gratitude for the education all three Browns received there.
“If I hadn’t gone to Purdue, we probably wouldn’t be in the position we are today,” Brown says. “For me, Maileen and our family, this is a way we can leave a legacy while also helping students and the University.”
Banner Photo Caption
Max and Maileen Brown
Investments in Infrastructure
Expansions and improvements to teaching and learning spaces, laboratories, offices
Elevating Student Experience
Scholarships, student opportunities, diversity programs, student clubs
Dedicated to the Cause
Fundraising, event hosting, activity planning, advisory boards, networking with alumni
Laboratory infrastructure and equipment, project startup funds, graduate student support
Administrative funds, student travel and networking, unexpected opportunities
Rewarding, retaining, recruiting faculty and promoting diversity in engineering