September 19, 2018

Footsteps on the moon and a promise at home

Hasler leaps Purdue University is celebrating 150 years of innovation by looking forward, beginning with the Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign kickoff event during Homecoming Week. The sesquicentennial will conclude with an astronaut reunion during Homecoming 2019. “150 Years of Giant Leaps” will be a yearlong exploration of some of the world’s most pressing problems and Purdue’s mandate to be a part of the solutions. (Purdue University photo/Kelsey Lefever). Download image

Indiana’s flagship public university celebrating 150 Years of Giant Leaps to better the world

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Neil Armstrong’s voice crackled over the NASA feed almost 50 years ago from the surface of the moon as he proclaimed “… One giant leap for mankind.” It is probably the best-known giant leap in the world, but Purdue’s faculty, students and alumni continue to strive making giant leaps to solve the world’s greatest challenges. 

Purdue University is celebrating 150 years of innovation by looking forward, beginning with the Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign kickoff event during homecoming week and concluding with an astronaut reunion during Homecoming 2019.

“The first person on the moon was a Purdue alumnus, a reminder that Purdue truly achieves incredible things,” said Dan Hasler, executive vice president for communication and leader of the 150th anniversary celebration. “Some may say the sky is the limit, but at Purdue, we go beyond. Whether it is treating cancer, improving autonomous vehicles or feeding the world, Purdue always takes giant leaps.”

The celebration continues through Homecoming 2019. The emphasis will be on a series of Ideas Festivals (IF), addressing four areas that can answer questions like what it will take to grow enough food to feed the world? What will it take to send people to Mars? Will we control tomorrow’s machines or will they control us? What will it take to live to 150 and do we want to?

The Giant Leaps campaign themes are:

* Giant Leaps in Space: Earth, Exploration, Economics.

* Giant Leaps in AI, Algorithms and Automations: Balancing Humanity and Technology.

* Giant Leaps in Health, Longevity and Quality of Life.

* Giant Leaps Toward a Sustainable Economy & Planet.

“150 Years of Giant Leaps” will be a yearlong exploration of some of the world’s most pressing problems and Purdue’s mandate to be a part of the solutions. The Ideas Festival programming is co-chaired by Christine Ladisch, dean emeritus of the College of Health and Human Sciences, and Mark Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. These topics and events are based on proposals reviewed by faculty committees representing each theme.

 “The coming year isn’t just about celebrating Purdue’s rich past,” Hasler said. “It’s a promise to double down on Purdue’s mandate to attack humanity’s most significant challenges, hopefully, turning small steps into giant leaps.”

We invite Purdue alumni, faculty, staff and students to participate in celebrating their Giant Leaps just like Drew Feustel and other alumni by creating their own Take Your Giant Leap video. We welcome alumni to post videos on their social media channels and tag #TakeGiantLeaps. More information is available online.

The celebration begins with Friday’s (Sept. 21) groundbreaking of the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories-Purdue, a 100,000-square-foot facility for electric power research in Purdue’s Discovery Park District. The laboratories will conduct electric power research and development in the new facility and are designed to support up to 300 new high-tech jobs.

Homecoming Weekend follows, and you are invited to join in a full schedule of events.

Campus visitors will see the university dressed with Old Gold and Black banners on buildings, light posts and flagpoles. Visitors and alumni also are welcome to download a special Giant Leaps 150th virtual campus tour. The “Purdue Campus Tour” is available at Android and Apple stores. 

During Saturday’s (Sept. 22) Homecoming football game against Boston College will be a special celebration for the College of Science. The game ball from the game will be presented to the College of Science’s Nobel Prize winner Ei-ichi Negishi. The science-themed halftime show will be livestreamed via Purdue’s Facebook page at 1:30 p.m.

Each month will celebrate a different college as well as university programs, cultural centers and units. Videos, social media and feature stories are just a few things that will be shared each month to celebrate the different colleges.

Giant Leaps memorabilia is available online.

Stay connected through continuously announced Ideas Festival events:

* What If we could cure cancer in 10 years? Friday (Sept. 21). Biden Cancer Community Summit and Purdue Center for Cancer Research’s 40th anniversary. Registration and more information available online.

* What If technology and agriculture work together to support agriculture’s most critical challenges to our food supply? Sept. 25-27. First ever Forbes AgTech Summit in Indianapolis. More information available online.

* Sept. 26. Indy Big Data.

* What If we could end world hunger? Sept. 25, 4-5:30 p.m., Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse, Everyone is invited to hear the keynote address by Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, World Food Prize winner and Purdue alumnus. This event will be livestreamed.

* What If we could bring more treatments to people in need? Sept. 28. Drug Discovery Symposium sponsored by the Institute for Drug Discovery. Registration required and more information available online.

* What If we created an artificial human? Oct. 2 and 3. 7:30 p.m. Stewart Center, Loeb Playhouse. “Frankenstein.” Ticket information.

* What If search engines skew perspective? Oct. 3, 6 p.m. Stewart Center, Fowler Hall. Safiya Noble, author of "Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism," will deliver the inaugural lecture in Purdue University Libraries' Critical Data Studies Distinguished Lecture series. Related news release.

* What If we could hear gravity? Oct. 17, 5:30-7 p.m. Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. "The Detection of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes." Public lecture presented by Barry C. Barish, 2017 Nobel Prize winner in physics.

* Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m. Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

* Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and author of "How the Mind Works” and "The Blank Slate.” Oct. 30. 6:30 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. More details to come.

* What if new technologies’ risks outweigh their rewards? Nov. 5 and 6. Dawn or Doom: “Emerging Technology – Risks and Rewards.” A technology conference curated by the Office of the System Chief Information Officer; Stewart Center, general admission seating, free admission.

* Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor. Nov. 8 in Elliott Hall of Music. More details to come.

Other 150th events include:

* Ben Domenech, the founder and publisher of the Federalist, and Ezra Klein, editor-at-large and founder of Vox, will join Purdue President Mitch Daniels for an hourlong conversation and audience Q&A on Sept. 26 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall at 6:15 p.m. The Giant Leaps Series: The Current Supreme Court Nomination and Evolving Arguments in American Politics.

* Former First Lady Laura W. Bush and her daughters, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, will speak Oct. 18. “Women in the White House and Beyond: A Conversation with Mrs. Laura W. Bush, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager.”

* Additional events will be posted throughout the year, so visit the calendar often.

* Stay tuned for the October reveal of the new Giant Leaps campus master plan that will guide campus improvements.

* Purdue also is celebrating its 150th globally with a special appearance of astronaut Jerry Ross in India in January 2019. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, 

Source: Dan Hasler, 765-588-3825,

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