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October 4, 2003

Purdue announces funding nearly complete for Millennium Building

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University today (Saturday, 10/4) took a giant leap toward constructing the gateway to its $400 million plan to more than double the size of its engineering complex and improve the quality of teaching and research.

Armstrong speaks
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At a Homecoming celebration near the Purdue Bell Tower, Purdue announced it has raised almost all the funds needed for its planned $46 million Millennium Building. The university has raised $6.5 million in private gifts from more than 50 donors to complement state funding, leaving $3.5 million yet to be raised.

Kenneth O. Johnson, of Cincinnati, a 1950 graduate of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, gave the lead gift of $1 million.

"This Millennium Building represents a renewed commitment to excellence by Purdue engineering," Purdue President Martin C. Jischke said. "Kenneth Johnson and all the other donors share this vision. Their gifts will make it possible to launch students here today on their mission to tomorrow."

Johnson honored
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The Millennium Building will be located near the intersection of Northwestern and Stadium avenues. The building will house the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the School of Materials Engineering, the Department of Freshman Engineering, the Division of Interdisciplinary Engineering and Engineering Projects in Community Service.

It also will house a variety of engineering services, including Continuing Engineering Education, Cooperative Engineering Education and the Women and Minority Engineering Programs.

Neil Armstrong, a 1955 graduate of Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics who, in 1969 became the first person to walk on the moon, Johnson and astronaut Mark Brown, a 1973 Purdue alumnus in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, attended the announcement.

Jeremy Schroeder
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The Millennium Building is the largest piece of the Schools of Engineering facilities master plan.

"The Millennium Building is a cornerstone of our schools' campaign, accounting for almost half of our much needed expansion," said Linda P.B. Katehi, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "The building will not only advance teaching and research, but also will serve as a showcase for the past accomplishments and future direction for the Schools of Engineering."

Johnson, who holds more than 20 patents from his five-decade career, said he wanted to give back to Purdue because of the importance of his education to the successes in his life.

"My dream had always been to design things that could improve people's lives," said Johnson, a native of Harville, Mo. "Purdue helped me to achieve those dreams. I only hope that the improvements that the Millennium Building will make possible will help the next generation to achieve their dreams in the same way."

The 125,000-square-foot building will include more than 20,000 square feet dedicated to research labs and more than 60,000 square feet of undergraduate teaching facilities, including discipline-specific design labs.

Thomas N. Farris, head of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said the Millennium Building will feature learning spaces that facilitate student teamwork, especially for design work, one of the most important facets of any engineering education.

In addition to the improvement to undergraduate education, the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics is focusing on strengthening and investing in its core areas, such as aerodynamics, structures and materials, dynamics and control, and propulsion, Farris said.

The Millennium Building will house learning modules that support research and hands-on learning experiences, and classrooms will be located with labs and discussion areas designed to facilitate small-group work. Farris said these "team-learning modules" will give students a more integrated educational experience, easier access to the tools needed for classroom and lab assignments, and room for groups to spread out, share ideas and build solutions.

These areas will be strategically located near research and graduate labs so faculty can expose undergraduates to large-scale experiments and undergraduate research opportunities.

"The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics' portion of the Millennium Building will also feature state-of-the-art research laboratories crucial to recruiting the best possible faculty and students," Farris said. These facilities will continue to be complemented by research laboratories at the Aerospace Sciences and Zucrow laboratories."

In the two most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings, both Purdue's undergraduate and graduate aeronautics and astronautics program ranked No. 6 in the nation. Purdue has the largest aerospace undergraduate enrollment of all of its peer institutions.

The School of Materials Engineering's portion of the Millennium Building will allow the school to double the undergraduate and triple the graduate enrollment to 125 and 90 students, respectively. Faculty size also will grow to accommodate the increase in student numbers and to position the school as a leader in materials research, particularly the fields of processing, manufacturing and nanoscale technology.

Laboratory spaces will accommodate classes of 12 to 20 students. Since many laboratory courses include some discussion and lecture, the labs will have adjacent space for teaching and group presentations.

Three major laboratory clusters are planned, each supported by a discussion room, teaching and research laboratories, and office spaces for faculty, staff and graduate students. The three lab clusters will focus on materials processing, structure and properties: the three cornerstones of Materials Science and Engineering, which together, lead to improved materials performance.

"As higher education changes, the walls between teaching and research blur," said Alexander King, head of the School of Materials Engineering. "The laboratory clusters will allow faculty to involve their research in their courses, as well as allow students to become more active and knowledgeable in areas of engineering research. This will not only contribute to the quality of their education, but also help to encourage students to consider research as a career."

In addition, the building also will include space dedicated to student work for Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS). In EPICS, the engineering program's most visible service-learning component, small groups of students from varied disciplines use their engineering skills to identify and solve problems for local and national non-profit organizations. Those projects range from designing ways for disabled children to play with their peers to developing software tutorials for the national offices of Habitat for Humanity.

"As EPICS has grown to its current size of 300 students a semester, the students have faced greater obstacles in finding space to complete their design work," said William Oakes, co-director of EPICS "Gaining laboratory space dedicated to the program will allow EPICS to continue to meet the needs of our community in new and exciting ways."

Kenneth Johnson's career in aeronautics began before he stepped foot on Purdue's campus. Shortly after graduating high school in 1941, he learned to rivet aircraft assemblies as he worked to support the war effort. In 1943 Johnson joined the Air Force as a second lieutenant and flew ground support air missions in Germany.

Following the war, Johnson enrolled at Purdue to study structural and aerodynamic design. In 1950 he began working for General Motors, where he analyzed and designed gas turbines and rocket engines, contributing significantly to the design and development of the Minuteman rocket engine.

Johnson worked for General Electric from 1966 until his retirement in 1986. While at GE's Large Gas Turbine Design Operation, in Cincinnati, he helped develop, introduce and patent the unducted fan engine, a breakthrough that led to reduced fuel consumption for commercial aircraft.

He continues to perform research and development for Belcan Engineering in Cincinnati. He is an associate fellow for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, to which he has belonged for 52 years. Johnson was inducted into the General Electric Aircraft Engineering Hall of Fame in 1987 and was awarded a NASA Certificate of Recognition.

Johnson's gift is part of the $1.3 billion Campaign for Purdue. The five-year campaign, announced a year ago, has already raised $766 million in private funds for the university.

Johnson also will receive the Distinguished Pinnacle Award – a recognition for leadership gifts and philanthropic gifts to the university.

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073,

Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708,

Linda P.B. Katehi, (765) 494-5346,

Thomas N. Farris, (765) 494-5117,

Alexander H. King, (765) 494-4100,

William C. Oakes, (765) 494-3892,

Neil Armstrong, a 1955 graduate of Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, speaks to a Homecoming crowd today (Saturday, 10/4) at the university's West Lafayette campus. On the stage with Armstrong are astronaut Mark Brown, a 1973 alumnus of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Jayleen Guttromson, a senior in aerospace engineering from Fargo, N.D. Brown, a veteran of the shuttle program, and Armstrong, who became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969, are among 22 astronauts who are Purdue alumni. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at

From left, Linda P.B. Katehi, Purdue's John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, university President Martin C. Jischke, alumnus Kenneth O. Johnson, Purdue Provost Sally Mason, and alumnus Neil Armstrong take part in a ceremony today (Saturday, 10/4) to honor Johnson with the university's Distinguished Pinnacle Award. Johnson's $1 million gift for the Schools of Engineering's Millennium Building puts the fund-raising effort at $6.5 million of $10 million in gifts needed for the facility. The 125,000-square-foot building, which will cost a total of $46 million, will include more than 20,000 square feet dedicated to research labs and more than 60,000 square feet of undergraduate teaching facilities. (Purdue News Service photo/Dave Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at

Jeremy Schroeder, a research engineer doctoral candidate in the School of Materials Engineering, works in Purdue's pulse laser processing facility. Research like his, involving florescence and other types of light, is among the work that will be done in the Millennium Building. (Purdue News Service photo/Dave Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at https://