sealPurdue Business Briefs

August 1998

Technology programs refined to meet industry needs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Universities and corporations nationwide are uniting to create graduate programs to meet industries' special needs.

One recent example comes from the heartland where United Airlines Inc. and Purdue University, a national leader in aviation education, have joined forces to develop a management-focused master's degree in technology specifically geared for people in the airline industry.

"Because graduate programs typically have a lot of flexibility already built into them, we were able to take some suggestions from United officials and very easily create the aviation management track within our industrial technology master's degree," says Mike Kroes, head of the Department of Aviation Technology. "By working in some business and communication courses that already existed in the graduate curriculum, we were able to tailor the program to fit what the industry is telling us will work for it."

Purdue faculty have been working with United Airlines since 1992 when the company decided to build a major maintenance facility at the Indianapolis International Airport, which is about 60 miles south of the Purdue campus. Initially the department oversaw an airline maintenance certification program and developed a schedule that allows students to earn a bachelor of science degree in aviation maintenance from Purdue by taking classes at the United facility in Indianapolis.

In 1996, the airline began sponsoring research projects for teams of graduate and undergraduate students to work on under the supervision of Purdue faculty.

"Purdue provides the educational services and expertise, and our students get a chance to help solve real-world problems for the airline," explains Gary Eiff, associate professor of aviation technology who was instrumental in crafting the partnership. "Many of these projects have been maintenance-driven, but we've also worked on some personnel issues, and that led to the development of the new management-focused master's degree option."

Purdue graduate students interested in aviation management will be able to work as part-time United employees during their second year of study, and United is making arrangements so that its Indianapolis employees can attend classes on the West Lafayette campus.

In addition, United personnel from around the world will be able to enroll in the School of Technology's new weekend master's degree program being launched this fall. Students will attend intense weekend instruction on the West Lafayette campus three times a semester, supplemented by on-line coursework, videoconferencing, lectures and discussion. Successful students will earn a master's degree in industrial technology in five semesters.

"United is really in a unique position to take advantage of the new weekend program, because it has the capability to fly its employees to campus regularly and at very little cost," Kroes says.

Purdue, which in 1930 became the first university to establish an airport and the first university to offer a flight training program for college credit, has a fleet of 24 training aircraft used to train more than 200 students majoring in flight technology. Purdue's School of Technology also offers majors in aeronautical technology and aviation administration technology. Also, the Schools of Engineering include the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

CONTACTS: Mike Kroes, (765) 494-9957; e-mail,

Gary Eiff, (765) 494-2334; e-mail,

Joe Hopkins, United Airlines, (847) 700-5770; e-mail,

Web sites: Purdue School of Technology,
United Airlines,
Purdue Schools of Engineering,
Purdue School of Aeronautics and Astronautics,

Professor launches resource Web site for marketers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new interactive World Wide Web site provides one-stop-shopping for marketing and advertising professionals.

Purdue University management Professor Patrick Duparcq calls his new marketing resource Web site, TIMER, a global community service.

"It's not making any money, but it sure helps a lot of people," he says. "And it's picking up a reputation as a hot spot on the Web for marketing and advertising professionals as well as students and researchers."

If they don't find the link they're looking for, visitors can go into one of many chat rooms and news groups and talk with others with similar backgrounds and interests to find the answers to their questions or to simply bounce ideas off of other professionals.

Duparcq says his first site, a marketing resource list, began to receive about 10,000 visits per week. "That's when I decided people might actually get some value out of an expanded version," he says.

The site, a joint project of Purdue and Tilburg University in the Netherlands, is coordinated by Duparcq, but uses contributions from users and marketing professionals worldwide.

"The site will ultimately be what the users make it," he says. "For instance, right now I'm looking for someone who does research in interactive media to evaluate the suggested related links and decide whether to include them on the site or not. I'm also looking for someone to search out relevant research for publishing on the site."

Topics on the site include international marketing, strategic marketing, distribution, sales and retailing, legal and ethical aspects of marketing and competitive intelligence. Visitors also can link to advertising agencies, professional associations, business news sources and find links to journals and magazines relevant to various marketing topics. The address is:

CONTACT: Patrick Duparcq, (765) 494-4461; e-mail,

Businesses can profit from family-friendly policies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Family-friendly employee benefits are becoming popular and profitable.

Shelley MacDermid, director of the Center for Families at Purdue University and of the Midwestern Work-Family Association, says workplace practices that help employees take care of family responsibilities benefit the employees affected, as well as co-workers and the company's bottom line.

"When employees come to work stressed out by family needs, they may be less productive," she says. Companies have found that work-family programs improve employee recruitment, retention, productivity and loyalty -- factors that she says can affect business profits.

Among work-family policies, businesses most frequently provide child care benefits. A survey by five major U.S. corporations found that 82 percent of working parents had missed days at work, arrived late, left early or had to use work time to deal with child-care problems. "Statistics show the average company with 250 employees can save $75,000 per year in lost work time by subsidizing care for employees' sick children," MacDermid says.

She says employers can pick and choose from many child-care benefit options including everything from child-care vouchers to on-site day care. The results can be as individual as each company. MacDermid offers tips to employers who would like to find out what benefits would work best for their employees:

  • Evaluate the current situation -- assess company goals and problem areas.
  • Marshal support from management -- educate managers on the business benefits of work-family programs.
  • Form a task force -- the committee should include employees from all company levels and workers who have child-care needs.
  • Assess employees' needs -- use surveys or focus groups to find out employee priorities and preferences. "Find out what employees see as the barriers to them doing their job well," MacDermid says.
  • Identify resources and constraints -- look at practices already in place that may be used to meet child-care needs, and know to what extent the company will go in finding and funding solutions.

The Midwestern Work-Family Association is a partnership between the Center for Families at Purdue and Midwestern employers who are interested in work-family issues. The association shares resources and is an advocate for family-friendly policies consistent with business objectives. For more information, call (765) 494-9878.

CONTACT: MacDermid, (765) 494-9878; e-mail,

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

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