sealPurdue Story Ideas

JOURNALISTS: Here are story ideas and a list of selected Purdue events during the next two weeks.

February 3, 2003

Story Ideas

1. Purdue prof: Serbia building bridge to the West
2. Purdue professor can talk about NASA management issues
3. Rube Goldberg Competition on Feb. 15
4. Experts can discuss impact of possible war
5. Industry, universities team up to promote diversity
6. Expert explains why reality TV dominates rankings


Purdue Events

Feb. 5 – Acclaimed author Maya Angelou to speak

Feb. 6 – Physicist to discuss Buddhism, science links

Feb. 14 – Board of Trustees to meet

Feb. 14 – Strategic innovation author to speak at Krannert

Feb. 17 – University Senate to meet

Feb. 24-26 – Heartland Wine School to take place in Bloomington


Purdue prof: Serbia building bridge to the West

If a Serbian province votes on Feb. 11 to turn over alleged war criminals for trial, the country will take a major step in building bridges with the West, says a Purdue University historian.

For almost a year Charles Ingrao, a history professor in the School of Liberal Arts, has lobbied the parliament of Vojvodina, Serbia's largest and wealthiest province, on the issue. The vote on the resolution, which is expected to be successful, would demand Serbia send indicted war criminals, now in hiding, to the international criminal tribunal.

The vote has the potential to change the political structure in Serbia, according to an analysis written by Ingrao. His analysis is available on the Web.

The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal was established at the Hague in 1993 to prosecute crimes committed during wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Ingrao's Web page.

Contact: Ingrao, (765) 463-9658 or (765) 494-8385,

Purdue professor can talk about NASA management issues

A professor at Purdue University's Krannert School of Management says the discussion of the Columbia shuttle disaster will shift from technical issues to management decisions – past and future.

"There are several million parts in the space shuttle, and it's a testament to the technical and managerial skills at NASA and its contractors that it works at all," says Dan E. Schendel, professor of strategic management. "I have great respect for NASA's work, but once we get past the mourning, we're going to have to look at the technology and ask, 'What went wrong and can we fix it?'"

Schendel has an engineering background, has served in the U.S. Air Force, is the co-author of a book on corporate whistle-blowing and founder and current editor of the Strategic Management Journal. He says the public has grown accustomed to safe space travel and does not have a realistic view of the risks involved.

"There's risk in any enterprise – from the simplest to the most complex – and in management you make choices based upon the best information you have to minimize risk and maximize gain," he says. "I'm not interested in Monday morning quarterbacking, but these aren't new issues, and we need to look at this from both the management and technical sides.

"Management is about choices. So, for example, if your organization has a 40 percent budget cut, as I understand NASA has experienced, management has to ask how do you choose what you do and what don't you do."

There have been critics of the shuttle's safety, and an important aspect of the prior shuttle disaster, the Challenger, was the technical advice NASA did or did not take, Schendel says.

"Whistle-blowers were controversial then, and I expect they will be in the current Columbia tragedy. But one of the marks of a good manager is to make certain the minority view is heard and considered."

CONTACT: Schendel, (765) 494-4386,

Rube Goldberg Competition on Feb. 15

It's time again for the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University. This year's task: select, crush and pitch a 12-ounce aluminum can into a recycling bin in at least 20 steps.

The annual competition pays tribute to the late Rube Goldberg, a cartoonist who poked fun at man's need to complexify daily tasks (and life in general) by drawing complex machines to perform simple tasks.

Journalists can begin coverage of the 21st annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Cumberland Place Exhibition Center in West Lafayette, Ind., near the Purdue campus. Journalists can see teams begin to set up and run their machines before the contest begins, as well as interview students and judges. A satellite uplink will be provided the day of the competition.



Time: 4 p.m. Indiana (East), Saturday, Feb. 15
SBS6/02K (74' W)
U/L: 14049.500 MHz Horizontal
D/L: 11749.500 MHz Vertical
Allocated Bandwidth (MHz): 43.000


In addition to a satellite uplink of contest highlights, a news release and photos will be issued the day of the contest. An ISDN line is available for radio interviews, but must be arranged prior to the contest. Video b-roll is available by request.

Journalists planning to cover the event should contact Jesica Webb, (765) 494-2079, (765) 423-7326,; or Grant Flora (765) 494-2073,

Experts can discuss impact of possible war

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Here is a list of Purdue University experts who can discuss the economic and social impact of the possibility of war with Iraq.


Industry, universities team up to promote diversity

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies, colleges and universities aren’t the only ones watching.

Industry also has a stake. Corporate America has noted the changing demographics: Minorities will dominate the work force of the future. Not only is industry looking to universities to educate more minorities, it also is urging universities to teach students to value diversity.

To that end, industry has invested in workshops to help university faculty and staff understand and value diversity, so they, in turn, will inspire their students. One university that has taken up the challenge is Purdue University, a leading research institution in Indiana.

For the past five years, Purdue’s Schools of Engineering have offered two-day multicultural and gender diversity forums for its faculty and staff. So far, more than half of the engineering schools' 265 faculty and 80 staff members have participated.

"The results of our just completed survey show that the forum has been a success story in engineering," said Klod Kokini, assistant dean for strategic initiatives.

The forums began at the suggestion of a alumna working for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. Additional corporate partners have included Daimler Chrysler, Eli Lilly and Co. and Procter & Gamble Co.

Participants in the survey reported having a significantly better understanding of ethnic history, diversity issues, stereotypes and prejudices. They also felt more empathy for people of color and began to assume personal responsibility for the racial climate around them.

The next engineering schools' diversity forums are scheduled for March 9-13.

CONTACT: Klod Kokini, (765) 494-5340,

Expert explains why reality TV dominates rankings

A Purdue University communication professor says it's no surprise that reality shows, such as "American Idol," "The Bachelorette" and "Joe Millionaire," are expected to be leaders in this month's television sweeps.

Glenn Sparks, an expert in mass media in the School of Liberal Arts, can talk about why people are attracted, and in some cases nearly addicted, to reality television programming.

"Many of these shows encourage us to get deeply involved in the lives of a few people, and that may be catering to a need to fill a void that many of us have in the domain of close relationships," Sparks says. "Some of us are living vicariously through these programs.

"At the same time, reality programs can create opportunities to bring people together. We hear about groups of friends getting together for 'Survivor' parties."

Sparks, whose specialty is cognitive and emotional effects of media, has authored "Media Effects Research," and is the co-author for "Refrigerator Rights," a book that deals with the loss of close interpersonal relationships in America.

CONTACT: Sparks, (765) 494-3316,




Acclaimed author Maya Angelou to speak
Wednesday, Feb. 5. 7 p.m.
Maya Angelou will deliver an address in the Elliott Hall of Music. Seats will be reserved for the media, however, flash photography is not permitted and only the first five minutes of her address can be recorded. In addition to Angelou's address, a variety of related campus events will take place the week of Feb. 3, for which the theme is "Project Respect: Expressions of Human Rights." CONTACT Pablo Malavenda, Office of the Dean of Students associate dean, (765) 494-1232,; Stephanie Warner, Purdue Student Government president, (765) 494-7201,

Physicist to discuss Buddhism, science links
Thursday, Feb. 6. 8 p.m.
Internationally known astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan will discuss the connections between Buddhism and modern science during a lecture at Purdue University in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. Thuan, a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia, will speak as part of Purdue's Lecture Series on Science and Religious Faith. His talk, "Buddhism and Science: Gentle Bridges," will address how the teachings of Buddhism complement modern scientific discoveries. Thuan has written several books, including his latest work, "The Quantum and the Lotus," which he wrote with French Buddhist monk Matthew Ricard. Thuan will talk about the changes in scientific thought that have resulted from recent discoveries, some of which have heightened debate on the origins of the cosmos. Thuan specializes in the study of galaxies beyond our own Milky Way and has written nearly 200 articles. Purdue physics professor Roberto Colella, one of the organizers of the lecture series, says the aim is to stimulate religious discussion among scholars in different disciplines. The lecture is funded in part by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and is sponsored by the schools of Science and Liberal Arts, the departments of Physics and Philosophy, the Religious Studies Program, the Science and Culture Program, members of the University Religious Leaders Association and private donors. Information about the lecture is available at the Web site. CONTACT: Colella, (765) 494-3029,

Board of Trustees to meet
Friday, Feb. 14. 9 a.m.
Purdue Board of Trustees meeting. Stewart Center, Room 326.

Strategic innovation author to speak at Krannert
Friday, Feb. 14.
Robert B. Tucker, author and authority on strategic innovation, will give two talks at the Krannert School of Management. Tucker is the president of The Innovation Resource, a research and consulting firm in Santa Barbara, Calif. He will speak on "Driving Growth through Innovation" at 11:30 a.m. in the Krannert Auditorium as part of the Krannert Executive Forum speakers series. At 1 p.m., he will speak at Stewart Center's Fowler Hall as part of the Entrepreneurship Club's entrepreneurship symposium. His talk is sponsored by Purdue's New Ventures Laboratory and the Lilly Endowment. Tucker is author of the bestseller, "Managing the Future: 10 Driving Forces for Change in the New Century." His forthcoming book is "How Leading Firms Are Transforming Their Futures," a three-year study of 23 of the world's most innovative firms. CONTACT: Tim Newton, Krannert School director of external relations and communications, (765) 496-7271,

University Senate to meet
Monday, Feb. 17. 2:30 p.m.
University Senate meeting. Stewart Center, Room 302.

Heartland Wine School to take place in Bloomington
February 24-26.
The Heartland Wine School will be at the Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Ind., and is sponsored by the Heartland Grape and Wine Coalition, Indiana Wine Grape Council and Purdue Department of Food Science. Commercial winemakers will learn about bulk wine management, wine flaws, post-fermentation microbiology, the use of oak in wine, design of the wine package and show-and-tell wine tasting. In the show and tell, participants will share their wine with others and taste unusual varieties. Journalists interested in covering the event should contact Sally Linton, marketing and public relations specialist in the Department of Food Sciences, at (765) 496-3842. CONTACT: Jill Blume, enology assistant, (765) 494-1749,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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