August 27, 2003
Purdue builds future of engineering education
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University this fall will break ground on its first biomedical engineering building, dedicate a one-of-a-kind lab for large-scale testing of bridges and buildings, celebrate fund-raising goals and announce at least $10 million in gifts to support its plan to more than double its engineering complex.
It is all part of a $400 million plan to increase the size and improve the quality of the research and teaching in Purdue's Schools of Engineering.
The university also will continue work on several engineering-related projects, including its $100 million Discovery Park and more than doubling the size of the Chemical Engineering Building.
Each facility will not only include state-of-the-art research equipment, but also flexible laboratory space that can be changed and redesigned as researchers' needs change.
"As the complexity of research grows and fields like nanotechnology and biomedical engineering emerge, a variable, interdisciplinary approach is needed," said Linda P. B. Katehi, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "This, in turn, requires more flexible and interconnected laboratories and classrooms."
The expansion of the engineering facilities add up to nine new buildings and major additions and renovations to at least 10 others. It will increase the space for the schools by almost 60 percent, or more than 325,000 square feet.
The groundbreakings and announcements, along with several other events from around the university, will take place from Sept. 26 to Oct. 4.
The schools will break ground on the new biomedical engineering building on Sept. 26. The state has authorized Purdue to sell bonds to pay for $13 million of the $25 million project, and the remainder of the money will come from private gifts.
Indiana has identified the life sciences as one of its core niches, and Purdue has responded by expanding its biomedical engineering program to supply Indiana medical device and biotechnology companies with engineers that will develop leading-edge clinical technologies, said George Wodicka, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Tissue and cellular engineering, a key component of biomedical engineering, is the design and development of novel replacements for body tissues that have been injured or diseased and is one of the Schools of Engineering's new signature areas for research. These eight signature areas also include fields such as nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing and alternative energy sources. Katehi said the eight signature areas address national priorities and hold the promise of discoveries that will have a global impact.
Emphasis on these signature areas also will help the Indiana economy.
"These initiatives are consistent with Gov. Frank O'Bannon's Energize Indiana plan and a statewide focus on the growing life sciences industry," Katehi said. "Not only will the research associated with these fields spin off high-tech industry for the state, it also will attract companies to Indiana. This is one more way that Purdue is able to do its part as an engine for Indiana's economic growth."
The Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research will be dedicated Oct. 3. The $11 million laboratory, located south of campus on South River Road, includes a laboratory large enough for researchers to build and test a four-story building.
The new lab will contain powerful hydraulic presses, cranes and other equipment to test parts and materials for buildings, bridges and other structures. With more than 50,000 square feet, it will provide more than six times the space currently available for large-scale testing.
"The Bowen Laboratory will be the premier civil engineering research facility in the country," said Fred L. Mannering, head of the School of Civil Engineering. "The trend in civil engineering is toward more large-scale research projects. The ability to do research of this magnitude will help us not only attract the best faculty but also will give them the facilities to provide the best education in the country."
Several of the upcoming gifts will support one of the cornerstones of the new engineering construction: the Millennium Building, a 250,000-square-foot, $46 million multidisciplinary engineering building. Katehi said this building, which will be located near the corner of Stadium and Northwestern avenues, will serve as the state-of-the-art centerpiece of Purdue's undergraduate engineering education and community engagement initiatives.
The price tag for the facility includes $10 million in private gift funds.
"The Millennium Building will house the schools of Materials Engineering and Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as freshman engineering, interdisciplinary engineering, minority and women in engineering programs and the Engineering Projects in Community Service program," Katehi said.
The building also is planned to house student laboratory space to expand undergraduate research opportunities.
A ceremony to celebrate private gifts to the Millennium Building project is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4.
"Upgrading our facilities is an important part of the Schools of Engineering's long-term direction," Katehi said. "More important, however, is what the new and renovated buildings will allow us to do. Increased and more flexible space is essential to allow Purdue to compete successfully for federal research grants and to meet the goals of our strategic plan, which calls for 75 new faculty members over the next five years. The face of engineering also will change as 50 to 75 senior faculty retire and are replaced in the next five years."
The schools are currently home to 270 faculty members. By 2007, almost half of the 345 faculty members will be new.
"The most important way to judge the quality of an engineering program is by the faculty teaching and researching in it," Katehi said. "The improvements we are making to our infrastructure and laboratories at Purdue will allow us to fill these faculty openings with the best and brightest minds in the field."
U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the Purdue Schools of Engineering undergraduate programs 10th in the nation. Six individual programs ranked in the top 10 of their disciplines, led by industrial engineering at No. 3. At the graduate level, Purdue was ranked ninth in the country in the April 2003 rankings. Corporate recruiters also ranked Purdue in the top 10.
Seven of Purdue's graduate engineering programs industrial engineering, agricultural engineering, aeronautics and astronautics, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, and electrical and computer engineering are ranked in the top 10 of their disciplines.
"We are very pleased with the strength of our undergraduate and graduate engineering programs," Katehi said. "We, however, are not satisfied to be among the best. I am convinced that our new strategic focuses, expanding facilities and a larger group of the highest achieving faculty members will make us not just one of the best, but the standard for engineering education and research."
With an undergraduate enrollment of more than 6,300, and a graduate enrollment of 2,248, Purdue's engineering program is already one of the largest in the United States. It encompasses 13 schools, departments and divisions.
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A publication-quality photograph is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/ivanisevic.biomedical.jpeg
The Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research, under construction near the Purdue campus, is one of nine new buildings planned for the Schools of Engineering. Other projects call for major additions and renovations to at least 10 other facilities that, in total, will increase the space for the schools by more than 325,000 square feet, an almost 60 percent increase. The exterior view shows the final stages of construction of the laboratory. Also part of the major expansion of Purdue's Schools of Engineering are plans to increase the number of faculty members by 70, or more than 25 percent, over the next five years. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/bowenlab.ext.jpeg
Casting forms are removed from the two 4-foot thick, 40-foot-tall and 60-foot-long walls to be used for large-scale testing at the Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research, under construction near the Purdue campus. The lab is one of nine new buildings planned for the Schools of Engineering. Other projects call for major additions and renovations to at least 10 other facilities that, in total, will increase the space for the schools by more than 325,000 square feet, an almost 60 percent increase. Also part of the major expansion of Purdue's Schools of Engineering are plans to increase the number of faculty members by 70, or more than 25 percent, over the next five years. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/bowenlab.constr.jpeg