September 9, 2016

Purdue University Fact Sheet: bicentennial torch

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University will be step for step with the Indiana Bicentennial Torch relay runners Friday (Sept. 9) as they carry the torch designed and created by College of Engineering students.

The torch is the culmination of more than a year of work by Purdue students and faculty:

* Six schools in the College of Engineering participated in the design and production of the flagship torch beginning in 2015. It was overseen by Timothée Pourpoint, an associate professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

* Students in Aeronautics and Astronautics designed the body of the torch and the burner. The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering researched the E85 torch fuel and the additive to be used, and the School of Materials Engineering worked on manufacturing and anodizing the torch's prototype body. Electronics and software angles – including GPS and camera functions with Wi-Fi never before used in a torch relay – were handled by the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Here is a description of some of the torch's features:

* A lighter torch with a plastic flame was planned and produced as a project through EPICS, overseen by Sean Brophy, an associate professor in Engineering Education. The flameless torch was created for children and other relay participants who preferred the lighter weight.

* Purdue teams created 130 flagship torches and 10 flameless torches were created for the relay.

* The final torch weighs just less than 5 pounds and stands around 2 feet tall. The flameless torch is lighter and stands 18 inches tall.

* Purdue team members worked with members of Alcoa's Lafayette Operations, who donated $100,000 in labor and materials to create the rings of the flagship torches from ultra-lightweight aluminum-lithium.

* Stars on the torch's two rings represent the 13 original states and the five states added from 1791-1812. A large star on the top of the torch represents Indiana, the 19th state.

* The EPICS team worked with Hoosier Pattern Inc. in Decatur which donated the materials and time to 3D print the lighter, flameless torch.

* The flameless torch team from Purdue worked with teachers at Lafayette Sunnyside Intermediate School to create a curriculum around the history of Indiana.

* The list of local torchbearers includes Purdue President Mitch Daniels, who will carry the torch past the grave of university benefactor and namesake John Purdue, and Betty Nelson, former university dean. Nelson will start the Purdue portion of the relay near her sign at Grant Street and Northwestern Avenue.

* More than a third of the local torchbearers have a Purdue connection. 

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084,

Note to Journalists: Broadcast-quality b-roll, soundbites and packaged story are available at For additional video, contact Erin Easterling, digital producer in Purdue's College of Engineering,, 765-496-3388.

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