Purdue research effort opens advanced degree opportunities for U.S. military officers

April 20, 2015  


PMRI daniels

Purdue President Mitch Daniels meets with 2014-15 participants of the Purdue Military Research Initiative, a program that brings active-duty officers to campus for advancing their graduate research degrees. From left are Mike Knauf, aerospace engineering, Ph.D.; Army Capt. Dan Konopa, electrical engineering, MS; Army Capt. Jude Onwanumkpe, technology, MS; Air Force Capt. Josef Kallevig, civil engineering, MS; Air Force Capt. Casey Pellizzari, electrical engineering, Ph.D.; and Air Force Capt. Levi Thomas, mechanical engineering, Ph.D. (Purdue University photo/Dave Hankins)
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The inaugural class of U.S. military officers in the Purdue Military Research Initiative is helping the university advance its research efforts and launching future leaders in the STEM fields.

Six of the 10 officers who entered the Purdue graduate program last fall are Air Force officers, three are Army captains and one is a Marine major. They all come from the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and their research includes topics such as fluid stability in hypersonic environments and the impact of vehicle surface textures in hypersonics.

"We're glad to have you here, learning and researching to better keep the country safe," Purdue President Mitch Daniels told the group while meeting PMRI officer-students and sponsors earlier this month. "The foremost responsibility of government is to ensure national security, and that is a key objective of the Purdue Military Research Initiative."

The program supports the education of driven, active-duty officers whose graduate research meshes with U.S. Department of Defense research or potential research priorities, as well as with the expertise and fields of participating Purdue faculty. 

PMRI team

From left, Purdue Graduate School Dean Mark J.T. Smith; Army Capt. Dan Konopa, electrical engineering, MS; Eric Dietz, computer and information technology professor and director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute; Air Force Capt. Mike Knauf, aerospace engineering, Ph.D.; Army Capt. Jude Onwanumkpe, technology, MS; Air Force Capt. Casey Pellizzari, electrical engineering, Ph.D.; Air Force Capt. Josef Kallevig, civil engineering, MS; Purdue President Mitch Daniels; Air Force Capt. Levi Thomas, mechanical engineering, Ph.D.; Army Capt. Jeffrey Rigney, aerospace engineering, MS; Marine Corps Maj. Charles E. Anklam III, technology, Ph.D.; Air Force Col. Ken Callahan, history, Ph.D.; Air Force 2nd Lt. Adam McKenzie, aerospace engineering, MS; Air Force Capt. Ricky Basora Rovira, civil engineering, MS; Nicholas Michael Sambaluk, assistant professor of practice in military science and technology; and Joe Pekny, chemical engineering professor and interim director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. (Purdue University photo/Cyndi Lynch) 
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Leading the PMRI effort are chemical engineering professor Joe Pekny, interim director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, and computer and information technology professor J. Eric Dietz, who is director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.

"The Purdue Graduate School is proud to be a partner in advancing the professional education of some of our nation's next generation of military leaders," said Purdue Graduate School Dean Mark J.T. Smith.

The program focuses on doctoral candidates, particularly those studying in the STEM arena, but applicants pursuing a master's of science degree also are eligible. Air Force Col. Ken Callahan, a doctoral student in history, is the highest-ranking officer currently studying at Purdue. 

While not a member of the PMRI program, his research into the cultural and societal interpretations of the military and military technology speaks to another priority identified at Purdue:  integrating understanding of technical and technological areas with studies including the liberal arts.

"In the end, this is a win-win for the student, the military service and our university," said Dave Hankins, senior project manager for the Purdue Homeland Security Institute and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.

Launched in May 2014, the Purdue Military Research Initiative, administered through the university's interdisciplinary research efforts in Discovery Park, is an annual, no-cost graduate education for up to 10 active-duty officers across all branches of the U.S. military.

Areas of study in this inaugural PMRI group include STEM programs within the Colleges of Engineering and Technology but may include majors from any department or program at Purdue based on future needs of the U.S. military.   

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