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February 2, 2007

Aviation technology gains Pratt & Whitney engine

Engine donated by Pratt & Whitney
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A major aircraft engine manufacturer has given Purdue's Department of Aviation Technology a large, commercial-grade jet engine that stands more than 10 feet tall and produces 98,000 pounds of thrust.Pratt & Whitney, based in Hartford, Conn., donated a PW4098 engine to Purdue in late November. Two such engines power the Boeing 777.

"This is a huge engine that produces twice the thrust of all three engines of a Boeing 727," said Thomas Wild, a professor of aviation technology. "This is an important acquisition because it gives students an up-close view of a modern engine, how it works and the location of the components.

"This is the only such engine on display at any college or university that I am aware of."

College of Technology Dean Dennis Depew said donations like this are increasingly important.

"Pratt & Whitney's gift to Purdue is a perfect example of the great things that can happen when industry and academia create partnerships," he said. "This generous gift will benefit not just students, but also the industry by helping assure that our aviation technology graduates are equipped to make a real impact in their fields."

The engine is located at the power plant lab at Hangar 2 of the Purdue Airport and remains stationary. But it still gives students in Wild's large engine systems class a hands-on education using an engine that powers today's commercial aircraft.

"These aeronautical technology students will pursue careers in the manufacture and repair of such engines, so this gift will give them a competitive advantage in a highly skilled industry," said Thomas Carney, head of the aviation technology department. "We are very pleased to be able to provide them with a top-of-the-line engine that they've been studying about so they can apply their book knowledge to something tangible."

Pratt & Whitney used the donated engine, worth an estimated $500,000, in its development and testing process, Wild said.

Wild said what really sets the PW4098 engine apart is the size and power of the engine fan. The entire engine was so large, in fact, that it had to be shipped over the road from Connecticut to Indiana.

"The fan is 112 inches in diameter and produces 80 percent of the engine's thrust," he said. "The fan can also be disassembled blade by blade, so students can see how it all fits together."

The department had been seeking to acquire a 4000-series engine for the last several years. John Beering, a Purdue alumnus and son of former Purdue President Steven Beering, worked with Pratt & Whitney to make the donation possible.

"At the time, John Beering worked for United Technologies, which is the parent company of Pratt & Whitney," Wild said. "John met with some people in the aviation technology department while visiting here in 2005 and, because of his ties to Purdue, basically became the catalyst who made this happen."

This fall FedEx Corp. donated a retired cargo Boeing 727 to Purdue for teaching purposes. In addition to its large fleet of piston-powered and turbine training aircraft, Purdue currently has one other airliner used for teaching in aviation technology - a 1970s-era Boeing 737 passenger airplane.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998,

Sources: Thomas Wild, (765) 494-9968,

Thomas Carney, (765) 494-9954,

Jerry Alberts, director of corporate relations for the College of Technology, (765) 494-0885,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
Purdue Department of Aviation Technology:

An engine donated by Pratt & Whitney is unveiled in late November at the Purdue Airport. The PW4098 engine, which is housed at the airport's power plant lab in Hangar 2, gives students a hands-on education of an engine used in today's commercial aircraft. The engine is more than 10 feet tall and produces 98,000 pounds of thrust. Two such engines power the Boeing 777. (Photo provided)

A publication-quality photo is available at

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