sealPurdue Business and Finance Briefs

February 1998

Purdue and other schools encourage entrepreneurship

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: B-roll of the Burton Morgan competition is available. Contact Grady Jones, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079; e-mail,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Business owners of tomorrow are getting their first crack at entrepreneurship through college competitions.

Purdue University's annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition is one of several contests around the country that allow students to test the validity of original business plans and earn cash awards for their efforts. First prize for the winning team at Purdue is $4,000.

"The interest in entrepreneurship and this competition in particular is really growing," says Shailendra Mehta, director of the Krannert Entrepreneurship Initiative at Purdue's Krannert Graduate School of Management. "We have 50 percent more contest entries this year over last year, and they are from all over campus, not just the business school."

For now, the Burton Morgan competition is open only to Purdue students, but Mehta says interuniversity competitions are growing in popularity. In recent years, Purdue students have entered entrepreneurial contests at Indiana University, the University of Nebraska and the University of Texas.

The preliminary round for Purdue's 1998 Burton D. Morgan competition was held in early November. Of the 25 teams entered, 20 qualified for the semifinal round at the end of November, and the field then was narrowed to 10 for the final competition on Feb. 28. But first, all 10 teams had a chance to test their ideas at the Midwestern Business Plan Contest at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis on Jan. 30.

Students must develop plans that include everything necessary to start and maintain a small business. Marketing plans and strategies, manufacturing designs and processes, industry analysis, and financial considerations are just a few of the areas judges focus on.

"We have worked extensively with the 20 semifinalist teams to develop their business plans," Mehta says. "The plans start out very rough and about five pages long. By the time the contest finals roll around, the business plans are at least 20 pages long and are polished enough be used to seek funding for the projects."

The yearly competition is sponsored by Purdue alumnus Burton D. Morgan, founder of six corporations and president of Basic Service Co., an idea-development company. The competition is designed to develop student appreciation of the free market system and the role of the entrepreneur in a market economy. The Burton Morgan Web site is at http: //

CONTACTS: Tamyra Gibson, public relations, School of Management, (765) 494-4392; Mehta (765) 494-5703; e-mail,

Food science programs have recipe for success

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Mix the country's largest industry with food science programs at Purdue and other universities, and the results are good jobs with tasty starting salaries.

The food science departments at Purdue and other schools across the United States are working hard to keep up with the industry demand for their graduates.

"We placed 100 percent of our May 1997 graduates with an average starting salary of $32,000," says Phil Nelson, head of the department at Purdue. "Some students had offers as high as $42,000, which is competitive with salaries in some of the more traditional scientific fields."

And Nelson says colleagues from 42 other food science programs around the country have high placement figures as well.

But placement numbers aren't the only ones going up at Purdue.

"In 1992 we had 59 students majoring in food science. This fall the freshman class numbered 37 out of a total of 140 students," Nelson says. "Of those 140 students, 33 have some form of a scholarship, and we hope to eventually be able to offer all food science majors some financial support."

The 137 percent increase makes Purdue the fastest-growing food science program in the nation. And Nelson has been fielding inquiries from food science departments around the country hoping to duplicate Purdue's success. He says one of the biggest challenges in recruiting is getting students to consider food science as a major.

"It's no secret that there is a recruiting problem nationally," Nelson says. "Food processing is the largest industry in the United States, but high school students have no idea how broad and varied the field actually is. When asked about what kinds of jobs are available, they immediately think of fast-food restaurants and grocery stores."

The reality is that food science graduates are qualified for careers in product development, research, quality assurance, sales, purchasing and production management.

Purdue has scored its recruiting success by taking some tips from the athletic department. Nelson, who is chairman of the university's athletic affairs committee, decided to model his department's recruiting effort on the Purdue Boilermaker football program.

Department of Food Science staff identify "prospects" during their junior year of high school, maintain regular contact with them until they enroll in college, and then provide administrative counseling and tutoring services once they arrive on campus.

CONTACT: Nelson, (765) 494-8256

Compiled by Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page