Data Digest
Data Digest Home Site Map Site Search Data Digest Home
Fast Facts
Did you know? - West Lafayette Campus

Return to Fast Facts links
Download a PDF of this page (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required).
  • Many Purdue graduates have traveled in darkness while viewing a sunrise every 90 minutes — as NASA astronauts. Our University and its alumni, especially its 22 astronauts, continue to play a pivotal role in the U.S. space program. Most notably, Neil Armstrong, BS ’55, stepped foot on the moon for the first time July 20, 1969. And most recently space shuttle commander Mark Polansky and mission specialist David Wolf were part of a NASA expedition to the international space station on July 11, 2009.

  • Two times in the past three years, Purdue faculty members have won the World Food prize, considered the Nobel Prize of agriculture. Agronomy Professor Gebisa Ejeta’s research on sorghum seed genetics has vastly improved the food supply for the people of 12 countries in Africa and resulted in his naming as the 2009 recipient. In 2007, Philip Nelson, the Scholle Chair Professor in Food Processing, won the same award for developing aseptic bulk storage and distribution, a technology to transport processed fruits and vegetables without spoilage.

  • The Purdue Research Park is the state's first designated certified technology park and is a business acceleration model that has received national recognition from the Association of University Research Parks. As of July 2009, the Research Park hosts four incubation centers across the state. About 185 companies reside within these centers employing nearly 3,800 Indiana residents with average annual salaries of $54,000.

  • Established at Purdue in 1995, Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) allows teams of undergraduate students to earn academic credit for multi-year, multi-disciplinary projects that solve engineering and technology-based problems for community service and education organizations. The program has grown to 20 universities and 35 high schools. It is expected to reach more than 2,750 undergraduate and 1,250 high school students nationwide this year.

  • Alumnus and noted computer programmer Howard G. "Ward" Cunningham wrote the first Wiki application. A pioneer in both design patterns and Extreme Programming, he started programming the software WikiWikiWeb in 1994.

  • Purdue's Online Writing Lab, known as OWL, went live in 1994 as the world’s first online writing lab. Today, its visitors come from more than 125 countries, and the site receives more than 114 million annual hits. The lab’s weekly e-newsletter has nearly 15,000 subscribers.

  • Purdue’s West Lafayette campus features 243 varieties of trees, including “Shuttle Gums.” In 1984, Purdue alumnus and astronaut Charles Walker took 200 sweet gum tree seeds to space, which germinated before returning to earth. These tiny plants, dubbed the “Shuttle Gums,” were later planted northwest of Grissom Hall, in Pickett Park, near the Mechanical Engineering Building and south of the Forestry Building.

  • Mackey Arena, Purdue’s basketball facility since 1967, is undergoing a transformation. Slated to open with a game on November 11, 2011, the new Mackey Complex will include improved arena seating, ticket offices, and other amenities for fans, as well as the opportunity to bring academic, athletic, and training needs into one complex to benefit all student-athletes. The $100 million project is being funded by private contributions, concession sales, and premium seating programs.

  • For the second year in a row, Purdue build the Big Ten's largest supercomputer in one day. It contains 10,000 computer processors and was named Coates, in honor of Prof. Emeritus Clarence L. “Ben” Coates who was a driving force behind high performance computing and networking at Purdue prior to his retirement in 1988.

  • Purdue alumnus Elwood Mead oversaw the construction of the Hoover Dam, which upon its completion in 1936, was the world’s largest concrete structure containing 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete. Also, Purdue Civil Engineering faculty member Charles Ellis conceived and drew up specifications for the Golden Gate Bridge, which was built in San Francisco in 1937. Both structures were at one time among the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World.”

  • Only one Big Ten university has won more conference basketball championships than Purdue. Combined, the Boilermaker men's and women's teams have won 27 regular-season conference titles, including a league-leading 21 for the men.

  • Purdue’s student newspaper, The Exponent, started circulation on December 15, 1889. The Exponent now prints 17,500 copies per day, making it one of the largest collegiate dailies in the country. Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges Quality of Life” report ranked The Exponent 17th in the nation in 2009.

  • Purdue's All-American Marching Band may be best known for having the "World's Largest Drum" and the "Golden Girl," but it also claims several famous alumni, including a baritone player named Neil Armstrong, who went on to walk on the moon; a tuba player named Orville Redenbacher, known best for his popcorn products; and another tuba player named R. Games Slayter, inventor of fiberglass and the alumnus responsible for Slayter Hill Performing Arts Center on the north side of campus.

  • Aviation has a long-standing history at Purdue. Alumnus named Cliff Turpin helped Orville and Wilbur Wright build and test their first flying machine in 1903. Turpin later set a world altitude record of 9,400 feet in 1911 in an airplane made out of wood and canvas and with no seatbelt. Purdue was the only college or university to have its own airport, when it opened in 1930. And renowned aviatrix Amelia Earhart served as a women's career consultant at Purdue from 1935 to 1937. In 2009, more than 600 aviation students are now enjoying the modern amenities of the recently opened Niswonger Aviation Technology Building.

  • The Purdue Musical Organizations often serve as international ambassadors for the university. In 2002, the Men’s Glee Club visited China; in 2005, it visited Scotland, and, in May of 2008, it journeyed to South Africa. Founded in 1893, the Glee Club is recognized as one of the premier all-male choral ensembles in the world.

  • Purdue has graduated more women engineers than any other university, and one in 50 engineers in the U.S. is Purdue-trained.

  • Purdue has the second highest enrollment of international students among public U.S. universities with 5,990 in fall 2009. International freshman enrollment also was at an all-time high (690) in fall 2009.

  • Thanks to a $105 million award from the National Science Foundation, the University’s largest award thus far, Purdue established a center in fall 2009 that is serving as a global epicenter for advancing research and education related to earthquakes and tsunamis. The Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Communication Center connects 14 NEES research equipment sites and the earthquake engineering community around the world through groundbreaking cyberinfrastructure, education, and outreach efforts.

  • “Purdue Pete,” originated in 1940 and took human form in 1956. Even in the late 1980s, Pete donned a costume head, which weighed about 13 pounds. Thanks to Purdue students and faculty in an advanced composite technology class (AT 472), Pete’s head now weighs just five pounds, and students in the class continue to make replacements as needed.

  • In 1971, Purdue students Arthur Bond, Edward Barnette, and Fred Cooper founded the National Society of Black Engineers, which now includes more than 400 chapters and 31,000 members worldwide.

Source: Marketing and Media