Alumnus and 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.
Cunningham called Wiki "the simplest online database that could possibly work." Wikis quickly caught on as a means for collaboratively creating, vetting and maintaining online documents, its application made famous by Wikipedia. They helped lay the groundwork for today's internet. Cunningham received his bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary engineering (electrical engineering and computer science), and his master's degree in computer science from Purdue.
Nuclear Weapons Developer
Deng Jiaxian earned notoriety as the founding father of China's A-bomb after his death in 1988 at the age of 62.
A native of China, Jiaxian graduated from the physics department of the nation's National South-West Associated University in 1945. Five years later, he was granted his doctorate from Purdue and returned to his homeland.
With his knowledge of advanced physics, Jiaxian worked at the forefront of China's nuclear defense for 28 years, making strides in developing the atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb. He made serious advances in nuclear physics and other areas as well as the research and testing of other nuclear weapons. He earned several state awards for his work, including the posthumous "Two Bombs and One Satellite Award."
Ralph S. Johnson
Purdue graduate and pilot Capt. Ralph S. Johnson did more than just fly planes. His innovations helped develop the world of aviation.
Johnson, an Indiana native, is credited with creating the stabilized approach to landing taught to all U.S. Air Force multi-engine pilots as well as producing a movie called "All Weather Flying Methods," used by training commands. A new method of de-icing planes and a standardized checklist of procedures in the cockpit also can be listed among the pioneer's accomplishments.
In addition, spraying equipment that he invented was used to adapt war planes for use in agriculture aerial applications.
Johnson graduated in 1930 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical and mechanical engineering. He started as an Army pilot, later moving on to chief pilot flying Ford Tri-Motors for National Air Transport by 1935.
During the early years of World War II, he developed and tested programs geared toward air safety. From 1935-47, he flew hundreds of planes as chief test pilot for United Airlines in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Johnson, who died in 2010 at the age of 103, also served two terms in the Wyoming State Legislature.
Magnetic Engineering Pioneer
Edward Mills Purcell discovered that by using a strong magnetic field and precisely tuned microwaves one can measure nuclear resonance frequency and magnetism.
Purcell, born in Taylorville, Illinois, studied electrical engineering at Purdue, graduating in 1933. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1952 with Felix Bloch for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith.
Purcell died in 1997 at the age of 84.
Typeface designer Bruce Rogers took the publishing world by storm with a stylized creation he dubbed Centaur. The typeface, inspired by Renaissance-period printing, launched in 1914 leading to an acclaimed career for the Lafayette native born in 1874. Over time, he led projects for the world's most prestigious publishing houses, including 37 volumes of Shakespeare's classics.
Rogers, an 1890 graduate of Purdue, took his first illustration job with the Indianapolis News. However, his love of travel quickly led him to Massachusetts. Publisher George H. Mifflin offered him a spot with Riverside Press.
In 1912, he left for a freelance career in New York City. His accomplishments as a typographer included work with Cambridge University Press, Harvard University Press and Montague Press. In 1914, his signature Centaur typeface became a publishing standard.
Typeface fame prompted Oxford University Press to seek out his expertise for its Oxford Lectern Bible, published in 1935. The project further propelled Rogers into the limelight. The Library of Congress honored his work by emblazing his printer's emblem on two bronze doors. Rogers was the first living printer to be honored by the Library of Congress.
Rogers died in 1957.
Medical Science Pioneer
Riyi Shi, Purdue professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering, is a medical scientist specializing in uncovering the mechanisms of central nervous system trauma and diseases and instituting new treatments through innovative experimentation and pioneering new strategies in the field.
His research contributions include originating the use of double sucrose gap technique for recording action potential conduction, establishing the methods of neuronal membrane resealing by polyethylene glycol (PEG), and identifying acrolein as a key pathological factor in spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.
Shi, along with Professor Richard Borgens and former Professor Andrew Blight, developed the Ampyra drug, the first and only FDA-approved drug to help multiple sclerosis patients improve their ability to walk and other motor skills.
Shi graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the University of North Texas before earning his PhD from Purdue in developmental neurobiology.
Jerry Woodall, the Epstein Distinguished Professor in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is known for his development of compound semiconductor materials and devices, including bright-red LED lights found in brakes and stoplights, for which he received the National Medal of Technology in 2001.
The recipient of 67 U.S. patents and hundred of awards, Woodall researched at Purdue from 1994-98, returning as director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in 2005 and remaining at the University until 2012.