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February 19, 2004

Mission to Mars and foreign trade highlight Engineers Week

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue will mark National Engineers Week with a visit from foreign ambassadors, student competitions and presentations, including one on the missions to Mars.

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Engineers Week events, from Sunday (2/22) through Saturday (2/28), will focus on the accomplishments of Purdue engineers and include activities for Purdue students, faculty and alumni, as well as community members interested in engineering.

"Not only is this week a celebration of the accomplishments and tradition of engineering at Purdue, but it is a celebration of the great things that engineers do every day in connecting science and technology to improve people's lives," said Linda P.B. Katehi, John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "Almost every item that people use exists because of an engineer. This is a chance to recognize all engineers, including our outstanding students, faculty and alumni."

All events are free and open to the public.

"The Outlook for International Trade: The Future of Jobs, Technology and Economic Growth" will be presented from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Feb. 27 in Loeb Theatre. The panel will discuss the implications of the global economy on job growth, including issues of jobs moving overseas and ways in which students and graduates can capitalize on these changes.

Yang Jiechi

Panelists will include Michael Kanter, former U.S. secretary of commerce and trade representative; Thomas F. McLarty III, White House chief of staff and special envoy to the Americas under President Clinton; Sergio Marchi, Canadian ambassador and former chairman of the World Trade Organization; Chan Heng Chee, Singaporean ambassador to the U.S.; Yang Jiechi, Chinese ambassador to the U.S.; Mike Eskew, UPS chairman and CEO.

Chan Heng Chee

The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Purdue alumnus and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb will facilitate the discussion.

Many U.S. businesses have succeeded in opening foreign markets for American goods, but in recent years the global marketplace has grown to include the job market. Katehi said she hopes the panel could help students understand the impact these changes could impact their careers.

"The business world that our graduates are entering becomes more and more global each year," Katehi said. "We are fortunate to have such esteemed guests on campus to help our students and the community understand the position both United States and engineers have in the new economy and how that new economy can benefit their job searches and their careers."

Engineers Week will also be highlighted by a talk by Purdue alumnus David Spencer titled "The Mars Exploration Program" at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. Spencer, who for five years served as mission manager for the Mars Odyssey mission, will speak about both the history and future plans for Mars exploration.

Spencer, who received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, is the deputy manager of the flight Systems Section of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he began his career in 1991. An Indianapolis native, he has received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for the Mars Pathfinder mission design and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for Mars Odyssey mission management.

Spencer will speak about past and current missions to the red planet and NASA's future direction in the wake of President Bush's recent directive of manned exploration of Mars. He will also take questions from the audience.

Other Engineers Week events include:

• "New Faces of Engineering – How to Get Your Engineering Career Started Out Right … and My Experiences on the Joint Strike Fighter," 10:30 a.m. Monday (2/23), South Ballroom, Purdue Memorial Union. Erin McGinnis, a 2002 Purdue industrial engineering alumna and an engineer with Northrop Grumman, will give advice about beginning a career in engineering. She also will talk about her work with Northrop Grumman and the Joint Strike Fighter project.

The talk is sponsored by National Engineers Week, which recently named McGinnis one of the New Faces of Engineering, a distinction that recognizes top engineers who have been out of college less than five years.

• National Engineers Week celebration, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday (2/25). Materials Science and Electrical Engineering Building atrium. The school will provide a cake and other refreshments. Activities will include an engineering display and a trivia game. The event also will feature the kickoff to the engineering portion of the Senior Face-Off, a fund-raising drive that pits graduating seniors from Purdue against their counterparts at Indiana University.

• Major gift announcement, 11 a.m., Thursday (2/26). University officials plan to announce major gifts to the Campaign for Purdue that will benefit the Schools of Engineering.

• Purdue University Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, 11 a.m., Saturday (2/28). Eight teams of students will compete to represent Purdue in April's national competition. In the annual contest, students build elaborate machines to perform simple tasks, modeled after the drawings of the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg. This year, machines must take at least 20 steps to cast a ballot. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

In addition to the events, a Purdue will host a private Engineering Faculty Awards of Excellence banquet, 6 p.m., Saturday (2/28). Several faculty and staff members from the Schools of Engineering will be recognized for excellence in teaching, research and service to the school and field of engineering.

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

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

Don Fry, director of advancement and major gifts, Schools of Engineeering, (765) 494-0164,

Cindy Lawley, director of external relations Schools of Engineering, (765) 496-6929,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Publication-quality photographs, including those of all presenters, can be found at An additional photograph will be available after 5 p.m. today (2/19). Additional biographical information on any of the Engineering Week presenters is available by contacting Matt Holsapple at (765) 494-2073,

Related Web sites:
Purdue University Home Page

Sorubh Mahdoo, foreground, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student from Mauritius, uses a laser table to begin scanning a sample for research on a haptic interface for a scanning probe microscope. In the background (clockwise from bottom) Stephen Brown, a senior in physics and mechanical engineering, from Fort Wayne, Ind.; Hong Tan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Laron Walker, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering from Atlanta; and Ron Reifenberger, a professor of physics, watch the results. The group, which is seeking to develop a way to manipulate nanoparticles by touch, is an example of interdisciplinary research that is becoming a focus of the Schools of Engineering. (Purdue News Service Photo/Dave Umberger)

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