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President's Message - September 2010

"Launching tomorrow's leaders" is not just a line in our "New Synergies" strategic plan. It is an idea we put into action each day in ways large and small.

As an institution that pioneered the new frontier of space and nurtured some of the prominent astronauts of our time, Purdue takes seriously its obligation to produce new knowledge and to inspire the next generation of students about space exploration.

Charles Bolden
NASA Administrator
Charles Bolden
On Sept. 7, Purdue will host Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, in the annual Boeing Lecture Series presented by our School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Bolden will engage Purdue in a daylong visit in addition to the lecture.

A strong advocate for outreach to children, Bolden will visit with local elementary school children at Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. That visit will include hands-on activities for the children and a poster exhibit. I am pleased that Purdue will play host to this important event, one that brings together promising young minds with a space industry leader at the top of the field.

It is important to remember that our outreach efforts in the areas of engineering and science are not always so public or so high profile. Much of this work happens behind the scenes.

A  student takes part in the
Science Express program
Science Express Student
One example is our innovative Science Express Instrument Van Program, which takes research-grade equipment on the road -- literally -- to high schools throughout central Indiana. Students can try out hands-on learning experiences with instruments used in actual research labs.

In a typical year, Purdue's Science Express holds more than 330 events and visits more than 200 schools. The number of students we impact with real-world experience and information illustrates our dedication to launching new ideas and dreams within the minds of tomorrow's leaders.

David Rozovski,
Ph.D candidate in industrial engineering, at the NASA Ames Research Center

photo by
David Rozovski
Among those future leaders is a Purdue graduate student in industrial engineering, David Rozovski, who currently is performing doctoral research at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. His work involves the agency's Vertical Motion Simulator, known as the most realistic flight simulator in the world.

Purdue's position as a launching pad for young minds to grow and for new ideas to take flight -- particularly in the area of space exploration -- was recognized by NASA this summer with a $2 million project. The funding will explore the use of lab-on-a-chip technology and make us a unique site for experiments to determine how plant cells react in space and in different gravity situations.

This interdisciplinary work will involve both the Birck Nanotechnology and the Bindley Bioscience centers in Discovery Park, our own on-campus large-scale interdisciplinary research complex. This is just one example of the exciting research happening at Purdue.

Our peers are noticing our hard work on many fronts. Just as the fall semester got under way, U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings.

We have much to celebrate. Over the past year, Purdue's standings rose in numerous key areas. We ranked 18th among public universities and 56th among all universities -- a four and five-place gain, respectively, over last year. Our College of Engineering, now ranked eighth, and Krannert School of Management, ranked 19th, also advanced.

Sharing the “Waka Waka” dance
with RA’s for the global
"education for all" initiative
WakaWaka for eduction
In listings of student success -- a central tenet of our strategic plan -- U.S. News recognized Purdue in five categories: first-year experience, internships, learning communities, study abroad and writing in the disciplines. According to the magazine, Purdue touts "a reputation as big as space itself, and a student body trained to think locally as well as globally." You can read more about our students’ success at the 5 Students Who website.

In addition to these rankings, we celebrated research support -- another central focus of our strategic plan -- at an all-time high in the last fiscal year. Awards reached $438 million, representing an increase of $96 million from the previous year. Much of these funds came from federal stimulus dollars, which Purdue sought in five strategic areas: life and health sciences; cyberinfrastructure and information technology; defense and NASA; energy and environment; and the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

There is no more exciting time to celebrate these achievements than at the start of a fresh semester. We are truly welcoming students to one of the greatest institutions of higher learning.

Hail Purdue!

France A. Córdova