September 28, 2002
Purdue chemical engineering breaks ground for expansion
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The Purdue University School of Chemical Engineering broke ground today (Saturday, 9/28) on a $19.5 million expansion, the largest project in the school's history.
The school will build a five-story, 96,000-square-foot addition on the current building and equip the new and existing facilities with state-of-the-art technologies and high-performance instrumentation.
Robert and Marilyn Forney, of Unionville, Pa., both of whom are 1947 chemical engineering alumni, have committed $10 million to help fund the new construction. The Dow Chemical Co. Foundation also pledged $2 million to the school's capital campaign.
This is the first academic building in the Schools of Engineering to be funded entirely from private sources: alumni, friends, and corporate and foundation investors. Construction is scheduled to begin in October and be complete before classes begin in 2004.
"Chemical engineering's step toward the future represents the aspirations of The Campaign for Purdue, the $1.3 billion fund-raising effort launched yesterday," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "This investment, devoted to education, research, engagement of students and faculty, and collaboration among faculty and industry partners, will yield benefits and discoveries on the frontiers of engineering."
These frontiers, Jischke said, are being explored with research in a wide array of fields including the design of systems for selective chemical synthesis, self-assembly of nanostructured materials, biomolecular engineering, DNA chips or "lab-on-a-chip" devices, and metabolic engineering.
The groundbreaking took place amid a week of activities, which included the announcement of the university's fund-raising campaign, homecoming activities and other project announcements. Chemical engineering alumni, faculty, students, staff, university officials, corporate friends and guests celebrated the occasion as backhoes broke through an asphalt and concrete parking lot to begin the construction.
Linda P.B. Katehi, the John A. Edwardson dean of the Schools of Engineering, called the project a major step toward achieving the schools' strategic goals.
"Purdue engineering's vision to achieve preeminence depends on the quality and accomplishments of our students and faculty," Katehi said. "For them to achieve this level success, we must provide the finest tools and a stimulating environment. The envisioned highly flexible, state-of-the-art addition to the Chemical Engineering Building will empower these gifted individuals and sharpen our ability to compete for other talented students and faculty.
"The new classrooms, laboratories and research complexes will provide our undergraduate and graduate students, as well as our faculty, a setting in which they can achieve excellence."
G.V. Reklaitis, head of the School of Chemical Engineering, said donors responded to the new learning and research environment envisioned in the facility's design.
"Bob and Marilyn Forney have been long-term supporters of the school and concerned with its well-being, growth and leadership in the chemical engineering profession. Their leadership gift allowed us to reach for our objectives to be the premier chemical engineering school," he said.
Robert Forney, who holds his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Purdue, as well as an honorary doctoral degree, retired in 1989 as executive vice president of E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. Marilyn Forney, who also earned her bachelor's degree from Purdue, has spent more than 20 years offering expertise in the construction of more than 850 housing units for the low-income elderly and disabled in Delaware and Pennsylvania. She also has led fund-raising efforts in a number of volunteer organizations.
"I spent my whole professional life working in the chemical industry, and the success I have achieved is in large part due to my Purdue education," Forney said. "Marilyn and I like what we see happening at Purdue's Schools of Engineering and in the School of Chemical Engineering. We recognize the need to modernize these facilities, which is why we decided it was time for us to give back to the university in an important way."
Another feature of the addition will be a state-of-the-art multimedia classroom made possible by the pledge from the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation. The university will name the 200-seat amphitheater-style interactive classroom in honor of Dow, one of the top three employers of Purdue chemical engineering graduates. The classroom will allow students to participate in a variety of interactive class activities, using multimedia and videoconferencing technologies.
"Purdue and Dow have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that thrives today and will only grow as chemical engineering becomes an even more vital engine of research and discovery," said Dow President and Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Parker. "As a Purdue benefactor and an employer of Purdue graduates, we are excited about the future of this area of engineering, the school and our relationship with this university."
Other facility improvements include an instructional laboratory complex that will be used by second- and third-year students for conducting experiments and learning about fundamental chemical engineering phenomena, as well as state-of-the-art labs for experiments in advanced reaction and polymer engineering systems for upper division students.
Faculty and graduate students working in bioengineering, nanomaterials and catalysis and surface science research will have their own "research cluster" areas designed to foster leading-edge research and to generate collaboration.
The expansion in chemical engineering is part of a campaign by the Schools of Engineering that is projected to exceed $400 million and expand overall engineering research and teaching facilities by 60 percent. The Schools of Engineering's master plan calls for $250 million in new construction, $100 million in new equipment and $60 million in renovations to meet anticipated needs for the next 15 to 20 years. Purdue's engineering program, with 13 schools and almost 6,200 undergraduate students, is one of the largest in the nation. The School of Chemical Engineering enrolls about 110 graduate and 400 undergraduate students.
In 1907 Purdue's Board of Trustees approved a "chemical engineering curriculum" within the Department of Chemistry. The first bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering was awarded in May 1909. In 1911, the trustees approved a recommendation to establish Purdue's School of Chemical Engineering. A graduate program followed in 1916. More than 9,000 students have earned undergraduate and advanced degrees from the school.
Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073; email@example.com
Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708
Linda P.B. Katehi, (765) 494-5346, firstname.lastname@example.org
G.V. Reklaitis, (765) 494-4075, email@example.com
Bettina McConnell, associate director of development and alumni relations, School of Chemical Engineering: (765) 494-4065; firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO CAPTION 1:
A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/forney.gift.jpeg.
PHOTO CAPTION 2:
A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/reklaitis.groundbreak.jpeg.
PHOTO CAPTION 3:
A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/reklaitis.groundbreak2.jpeg.
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