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* School of Biomedical Engineering
* George Wodicka

May 9, 2007

Purdue's first crop of biomedical engineering seniors has date with history

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering will make history this weekend when it graduates its first class of undergraduate students.

The undergraduate program began in 2004 with the first students enrolling as sophomores. The 32 graduating seniors will receive their bachelor's degrees during a 9:30 a.m. commencement on Saturday (May 12).

"Our first crop of graduating seniors will go on to graduate studies, medical careers or they will work directly as highly skilled employees for companies around the nation and in Indiana, which is a globally recognized center for medical devices, including orthopedic products, diagnostics and cardiac implants," said George Wodicka, Purdue's head of biomedical engineering.

One hallmark of the undergraduate program will be a new community service component called "Weldon Wagons." Each graduating class will assemble children's wagons and donate them to local hospitals to transport pediatric patients to and from their cars. Students in the class of 2007 will begin this tradition on Thursday (May 10) by delivering two wagons to the pediatrics unit at Home Hospital in Lafayette.

"The intent of having the students construct the Weldon Wagons is to remind them that they are graduating with more than just a degree in biomedical engineering," Wodicka said. "Through their degree, they have acquired the skills to create or assist in the creation of medical technologies to help heal people and enable them to live better lives. One of our goals is to create a strong bond between the students, the Weldon School and Purdue University that will last for generations."

The biomedical engineering program contains a total of 195 students, including doctoral and graduate students.

The undergraduate program, the first in biomedical engineering at a public university in the state, began in conjunction with the construction of a new biomedical engineering building. The $25 million building, which was completed last year, also enabled Purdue to expand its Department of Biomedical Engineering into a full-fledged school and enlarge the faculty and graduate program.

The building houses modern laboratories for research ranging from the development of miniature medical devices and advanced diagnostic tools that can be implanted into the body, to creating better artificial joints and new materials used to repair damaged and diseased body parts. The new building provides instructional labs that are better designed for hands-on education and team projects than previous biomedical engineering facilities.

Graduating seniors Melissa K. Linker and Allison Bixler said their educations provided an excellent preparation to either enter the work force or pursue graduate degrees.

Linker, of Waterloo, Ill., will attend graduate school at Purdue, working with Ann Rundell, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Bixler, of St. Charles, Ill., plans to work for General Electric's Edison Engineering Development program, in Waukesha, Wis.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Sources:   George Wodicka, (765) 494-2998, wodicka@ecn.purdue.edu

Melissa K. Linker, (618) 741-0815, mlinker@purdue.edu

Allison Bixler, (630) 862-8835, atbixler@purdue.edu

Lisa Kiely Decker, contact for the Greater Lafayette Health Services, which operates Home Hospital, (765) 423-6565, lisa.decker@ssfhs.org

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: The Purdue biomedical engineering seniors will be delivering their "Weldon Wagons" at 11 a.m. Thursday (May 10) in the lobby of Home Hospital in Lafayette.

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