sealPurdue Newsmakers

February 21, 1997

Purdue faculty, staff and students make headlines around the world. This column offers highlights of those stories that appeared or were carried by national news media outside Indiana.

The annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest attracted entries from six campus organizations. The teams were required to build a machine that could insert a CD into a player and play music or into a computer and start a program. The winning team, representing the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, won with a machine based on "America," which incorporated 43 steps and played the song "Born in the USA." In addition to national coverage on CNN and CNN Headline News, the event was covered by AP, UPI, the Indianapolis Star and television stations around the state. CBS Radio Network did a pre-contest interview with contest chairman Dan Colpi , a junior in computer engineering, and a post-contest interview with Bryan Whitson , a senior in mechanical engineering and the spokesman for the winning team. The national contest will be April 5 at Purdue, and a crew from Good Morning America will be on campus the Friday before to conduct live interviews with contestants.
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The importance of washing hands was brought out in a research project conducted by Joann Niffenegger , assistant professor of early childhood development at Purdue Calumet. She had a group of preschoolers at the Riley Children's Center in Calumet follow a strict hand-washing regimen during the cold and flu season. She found they developed fewer illnesses than did a similar group of children who did not wash hands as frequently. Her research was reported in papers including the Los Angeles Daily News, Sacramento Bee and the Minneapolis Star Tribune .
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Fox Television News aired a one-hour, prime-time special titled "Doomsday: What Can We Do?" The program was about the threat of nuclear terrorism. Louis René Beres , professor of political science and international law, was featured as an expert on international security matters. Beres has served as a special consultant to various U.S. government agencies, including the Pentagon.

It's probably rude to stare, but close scrutiny of your business associate may be vital when negotiating a deal. Of course there's the danger that you might read too much into just one sign, says Richard Heslin , professor of psychology. "But when you can put several things together, maybe there's something there that's worth paying attention to," Heslin said in Investor's Business Daily .

Playing computer games can help sharpen young minds, according to a story in Business Week that cited the research of Lynn Okagaki , associate professor of child development and family studies. Okagaki and colleagues found that playing the popular game Tetris helped adolescents learn to rotate objects mentally.

Consumers didn't charge as much this holiday season as in years past. Most people realize they don't have as much money to spend after tax payments, says Robert Johnson , senior research associate at the Credit Research Center. If consumers are going to charge, Johnson recommends using credit cards that offer cash rebates or lifestyle perks. Johnson was quoted in Washington Insight and the Arizona Republic .

You can help ensure that your school and faculty are recognized in "Newsmakers" by sending clips of national news stories or reports of national broadcasts to Jeanne Norberg, director, Purdue News Service, ENAD.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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