sealPurdue Business, Finance, Technology Briefs

April 2001

Purdue offers 'mini MBA' technical
management programs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's Krannert School of Management is collaborating with the engineering and science schools to offer two short-course management programs – "mini MBAs" – for engineers and scientists in April and May.

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The Purdue University Engineering/Management Program is an intensive on-campus residential program that takes place April 30 to May 4. The one-week program is designed for experienced (at least five years) engineers, scientists, technical specialists and engineers to update their engineering and management skills.

The Applied Management Principles Program is designed for Ph.D. engineers and scientists, as well as doctoral candidates, wishing to improve their business knowledge and skills. The two-week, "mini-MBA" program takes place on campus May 14-25.

"Both the Engineering/Management and Applied Management Principles Program provide interdisciplinary approaches to a working environment where the line between the technical and the managerial is increasingly blurred," says Wilbur G. Lewellen, Herman C. Krannert Distinguished Professor of Management and director of the Krannert School's Executive Education Programs.

Michael Sheahan

"The Applied Management Principles Program allows doctoral students to view their technical educations through the lens of business enterprise," says Michael Sheahan, associate director of the Krannert School's executive education programs. "It also enables those with technical backgrounds who are already employed in industry to acquire the business acumen to make more informed and substantive contributions to their organizations."

The engineering management program, now in its 16th year, offers a range of courses from which participants can choose. The offerings include such topics as accounting and finance, e-commerce infrastructure and strategy, marketing, manufacturing design, operations and supply-chain management, and business communication classes.

The Applied Management Principles program, open for the first time this year to engineers and scientists from industry, offers classes in human resources management, accounting and financial management, marketing management, international and strategic management, and entrepreneurism.

"Our engineering/management program allows participants to select four courses to attend from an integrated series of 16 offerings," Sheahan said. "There are opportunities for participants to tailor the one-week educational experience to individual needs.

"At the next level of programming, our Applied Management Principles exposes participants to all the functional areas that compose the MBA – but in a compressed two-week format where all of the students take the classes as a cohort group."

The cost of the engineering management program is $2,495. The cost of the Applied Management Principles Program is $5,000. Program fees include course materials, accommodations at the Purdue Memorial Union Club Hotel and some meals.

For registration information, contact Sheahan, (765) 494-5831,

CONTACTS: Wilbur G. Lewellen, (765) 494-4397,; Michael Sheahan, (765) 494-7700,

Wilbur G. Lewellen, Herman C. Krannert Distinguished Professor of Management and director of the Krannert School's executive education programs, teaches a class in financial management. Classes in the Engineering/Management and Applied Management Principles programs will be at the Krannert Center on Purdue's West Lafayette campus. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Sheahan.engmgmt

Researcher: Education lacking in retirement planning

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Research from Purdue University indicates there are large numbers of Americans who are undereducated when it comes to retirement planning.

Sharon DeVaney, a professor of consumer sciences and retailing, specializes in personal financial management over the life course and economic security in retirement. She and research assistant Yi-Wen Chien used data from the 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances to examine factors influencing the amount people put into tax-deferred savings plans, either through their employer or an individual retirement account or Keogh plan. The study was funded by a grant from the American Association of Retired Persons' Andrus Foundation.

"There is a lack of agreement in the public and private sectors on whether workers are saving enough for retirement," says DeVaney. "It makes sense that if we can get an accurate picture of who is saving, we will then be able to pinpoint who isn't saving and target those people for extra information."

DeVaney's research results, which will be published in the Journal of Financial Services Professionals this month, showed nine factors as significant predictors for participation in a defined contribution plan and 13 factors that pointed to investment in an IRA or Keogh plan.

"For both types of savings, there was a positive relationship between the amount saved and taking more financial risk, being married, having more education, being a professional, owning a home, the amount of non-financial assets and spending less than last year's income," DeVaney says. "From this we can surmise that people who are overly conservative with their money, who are not white collar and who are less educated are going to be less likely to be saving adequately for their retirement."

So the question becomes how to reach these people with the financial information they need?

"I think there's more and more of a push to provide education at work because people aren't getting it anywhere else," DeVaney says. "There is a lot of good information available on the Internet, but the consumer needs to be able to distinguish between useful information and a sales pitch."

DeVaney suggests workers look for low-cost or free resources in their own communities, such as workshops or seminars available through cooperative extension programs. She also recommends employers make a special effort to have easily understandable materials and resources available, and that it's a good idea to pay special attention to younger staff members who are not only new to the company, but new to the work force as well.

"Retirement is usually the last thing on a young person's mind when he or she starts a first job, but it's really important to understand the benefits of beginning to save early," DeVaney says.

CONTACT: Sharon DeVaney, (765) 494-8300,

Researcher creates soy feed to keep fish on the table

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – By creating soybean and corn feeds for farm-raised fish, a Purdue University researcher has opened up new markets for the grain crops and has found a way to keep fish on the menu. Feed mills are starting to churn out fish food based on his research.

"We've maxed out the ocean fisheries," says Purdue aquaculturist Paul Brown. "For example, eight or nine strains of Pacific salmon are now on the rare or endangered species list. We need an alternative. To meet global demand in the future, aquaculture must grow."

For aquaculture to grow, producers need new sources of fish food. Fish meal, which is dried and ground fish that is the traditional food for farm-raised fish, is getting more expensive and harder to find, Brown says. He sees plant proteins as the logical alternative, and soybeans as the best source of plant protein. Also, according to Brown's tests, fish that eat soy-based feed excrete less phosphorus and nitrogen than do fish that eat fish meal. That means they're less likely to cause pollution problems.

Brown predicts that with the world's current population growth and declining wild fish populations, farmers in the year 2035 may produce as many pounds of fish as chicken. If those fish were fed a soy-based diet, they would consume the equivalent of between 40 percent and 90 percent of the current soybean output of the United States.

A soy-based, commercial feed developed by Brown for yellow perch is on the market.

With funding from the Indiana Soybean Board, Brown figured out which nutrients yellow perch need to grow properly, then found a way to get those nutrients out of a mix mostly made of soybeans and corn. When he compared growth of grain-fed perch to perch fed the highest quality fish meal, he found no difference. And the grain-fed perch produced quality fillets.

Brown also came up with a feed formulation that, in small-scale trials, put a pound of meat on a trout for every pound of food the fish ate. The new trout food, developed with a regional grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is three-quarters soybean and corn meal, with some added fish oil. Eventually, Brown says, he'd like to replace the fish oil with oil from a plant such as canola. Brown is also detailing diets for lobsters.

CONTACT: Paul Brown, (765) 494-4968,

New Purdue lab tackles complex management problems

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A multidisciplinary lab at Purdue University is striving to understand how the complex interactions between corporations affect vital "supply chain" factors like production planning and scheduling, inventory management, distribution, and warehousing.

Gone are the days when a factory manager could operate in isolation, said Reha Uzsoy, a professor of industrial engineering who initiated the creation of the Laboratory for Extended Enterprises at Purdue.

"In the old days, we never really worried about what happened outside a given factory," said Uzsoy, one of six researchers running the lab. "I was the plant manager, and I ran my plant, and that was the end of my world."

Now, however, management is far more complicated.

"Everybody has come to the conclusion that it's the overall supply chain that matters," Uzsoy said. "Your relationships with your customers, your suppliers, and other units of your own company are constantly changing and being redefined. So you are not just living within an individual plant any more."

Corporations and facilities are woven together in an "extended enterprise," a web of firms doing business with each other, which complicates the management decision-making process. With the advent of new technologies such as e-commerce, managers are being forced to make decisions for which past experience offers little guidance because the environment has changed so radically.

LEEAP combines researchers from engineering, economics and management, said Jennifer K. Ryan, an assistant professor of industrial engineering and one of the six researchers in the lab.

"What's really key is that it's interdisciplinary," Ryan said. "The idea is to bring together faculty, graduate students and industry."

The lab, which was formed last spring, received a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the first project involving all six researchers. The project is to test the feasibility of developing a supply chain optimization and protocol environment, a software tool for simulating management scenarios in an extended enterprise.

The four other faculty members in the lab are: Ananth V. Iyer, an associate professor of management in the Krannert Graduate School of Management; Joseph F. Pekny, a professor of chemical engineering; Paul V. Preckel, a professor of agricultural economics; and Ronald L. Rardin, a professor of industrial engineering. Several graduate students also are involved.

CONTACTS: Jennifer Ryan, (765) 494-7523,; Reha Uzsoy, (765) 494-0829,

Workplace surveillance may inhibit productivity

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University expert on workplace surveillance suspects some employers may be "shooting themselves in the foot" when it comes to electronically monitoring their workers.

"Most companies institute employee surveillance for one of two reasons: information security or to try to boost productivity as part of a quality improvement or customer service program," explains Carl Botan, a professor of communication and a member of Purdue's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security. "Unfortunately, a common issue with quality improvement programs – regardless of industry – is that improvement is invariably measured by quantitative data. And when employees know they're being monitored, they tend to believe that the boss is more concerned about the quantity of work rather than quality."

Botan is in the final application stages for a National Science Foundation grant that, if approved, will be used to conduct the first-ever random nationwide survey of employees and their feelings about surveillance on the job.

Botan's preliminary data suggests employees who know they are being electronically monitored have less of a sense of control over their workplace experiences than non-monitored workers and that can undermine confidence and quality of work life.

"It's reasonable to assume that some workers would interpret a newly implemented surveillance system as a message that their employers don't trust them or that their work isn't any good," Botan says. "How is that going to impact a person's enthusiasm for coming in to work? How will it affect employee loyalty and turnover? These are issues that managers really need to think about when considering surveillance as part of their quality improvement efforts."

CONTACT: Carl Botan, (765) 494-3319;

Cantilever software bridges gap between
design, production

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A high-tech, start-up company located in the Purdue Research Park is developing software to help large manufacturers of customized, high-value products reduce time to market and lower costs.

"What if your manufacturing organization could communicate efficiently and painlessly with engineering – in the early stages of product development – to significantly reduce the total time and cost required to design and deliver new products?," asks Julie Goonewardene, president of Cantilever Technologies.

This type of real-time communication will be made possible this year with the advent of the Readiness Engine™, Goonewardene says. The Readiness Engine™, a software system designed by Cantilever Technologies, organizes data from independent design and supply chain systems into a shared information base to improve the flow of a product through the design, engineering and manufacturing operations. Following a product testing phase involving selected clients, the Readiness Engine™ will be commercially available by mid-2001.

"Engineering decisions are often made in a vacuum because the existing information systems generally do not provide a shared database for decision-making, particularly in the design process. This is where many decisions are made that impact product functionality, quality and costs," says James Wallin, Cantilever's senior vice president and chief technology officer.

Traditionally, once a product was designed, little or no additional input from design engineers was required because manufacturers relied on an ongoing market for a stable product.

The Readiness Engine™, on the other hand, improves the transition from design engineering to production, reducing time to market and costs, Goonewardene says. The software is designed to reduce engineering change orders and synchronize engineering and production tools.

While engineers are well-versed in analyzing trade-offs or alternatives among various designs, Cantilever Technologies' system provides powerful systems support for the application of trade-off analysis to the entire production process, Goonewardene says.

For example, a manufacturer is deciding whether to buy metal to make its product or whether to take advantage of a drop in the market, and instead make its product out of plastic. The Readiness Engine™ allows the company's engineering department to rapidly reconfigure the product in response to material changes.

CONTACT: Julie Goonewardene, (765) 775-4552;

Compiled by J. Michael Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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