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2018 College of Engineering Giving Report

The Paul L. Wattelet Professorship aims to keep Purdue at the forefront of teaching and research in Nuclear Engineering

When Paul Wattelet (PhD NE ’67) arrived at Purdue in the early 1960s, he found himself surrounded by the pioneers of nuclear engineering — including several individuals who had worked on the Manhattan Project. He was impressed by their qualifications, but even more so by their attitudes toward him, a recent graduate who was passionate about nuclear power.

“They were the nicest people I ever met in academia,” Wattelet says. “Their teaching was exceptional, and I was inspired by how encouraging they were of me and my research.”

Four decades later, memories of that support prompted Paul and his wife, Madeline (MS Mathematics ’66), to make a $750,000 donation to the School of Nuclear Engineering. The gift, with the help of an earlier matching fund, helped establish the $1.5 million Paul L. Wattelet Professorship in Nuclear Engineering.

“I did well in my career, thanks in part to my experiences at Purdue and the people there,” says Wattelet, who retired in 2005 as CEO of Sargent & Lundy, an international power engineering consulting firm. “They were so supportive of me that I had to give back.”

Scholarship and leadership

On a recent campus visit — during which Wattelet received the 2018 Outstanding Nuclear Engineers Award — the Wattelets saw the results of their generosity firsthand. They met with Ahmed Hassanein, the first Paul L. Wattelet Professor, to learn about some of the student research projects underway.

Increased student engagement is not the only benefit of the Wattelets’ generosity. According to Hassanein, the Wattelets’ gift supports the School of Nuclear Engineering’s goal to increase faculty by 30 percent and position Purdue at the forefront of advances in nuclear engineering.

“Support from donors like the Wattelets is essential in keeping our program among the top in the nation,” Hassanein says. “It enables us to bring new research concepts to the school and assemble the best team of faculty to make that research flourish.”

Seungjin Kim, the Capt. James F. McCarthy, Jr. and Cheryl E. McCarthy Head of the School of Nuclear Engineering, agrees with Hassanein’s assessment of the gift’s impact.

“Endowed professorships help us attract and retain world-class scholars with expertise in a particular area of nuclear engineering,” Kim says. “These are individuals who possess, or have the potential to develop, strong leadership skills that will benefit the school, the college, the University and the community at large.”

That focus on leadership is precisely what the Wattelets had in mind when they endowed the professorship.

“Our goal is to help the School of Nuclear Engineering attract and keep great professors and leaders,” Wattelet says, “just like the ones who inspired me half a century ago.”

To support the School of Nuclear Engineering, contact Claire Chandler, director of development, at 765-494-0671 or cechandler@prf.org.

Banner Photo Caption

Madeline and Paul Wattelet


Fall 2018


Dean's Message

Pinnacle of Excellence at Scale

Dean Mung Chiang: On a Global Listening Tour

Giant Leaps in Engineering, Discovery Park District

The College of Engineering Makes Its Mark

Neil Armstrong: Inspiration Cast in Bronze

Our Gratitude for a Stellar Year


2018 Distinguished Engineering Alumni/Alumnae

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

Funding Research
Laboratory infrastructure and equipment, project startup funds, graduate student support

Flexible Gifts
Administrative funds, student travel and networking, unexpected opportunities

Fueling Faculty
Rewarding, retaining, recruiting faculty and promoting diversity in engineering

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