sealPurdue Agriculture Briefs

May 1999

Purdue branches out with wood products tech major

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University is taking steps to fill the high demand for professionals in the wood products industry with the creation of a new major -- wood products manufacturing technology.

"Secondary wood production companies that generate products such as cabinets and furniture need people who know how to turn a piece of lumber into finished goods ready for the sales floor," says Rado Gazo, assistant professor in Purdue's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. "So graduates will find excellent opportunities for industrial engineering, product and process design, product development and marketing, management, and related careers in this field."

Graduates can also help in conservation efforts. "Our nation will continue to make products from wood, but our graduates can make sure it's done efficiently and with an environmental approach," says W.L. Mills Jr., associate professor of forestry and adviser for the new major.

Job placement already is greater than 90 percent for Purdue forestry majors who decide to enter the wood products industry, Gazo says. Since Purdue began offering the wood products manufacturing technology major in the fall of 1998, one student transferred enough credits to graduate with the major in December. He received a handful of strong job offers and accepted a position with a salary in the mid-40s.

The new major is a joint program between Purdue's Schools of Agriculture and Technology. The plan of study involves courses in math and science, forestry and natural resources, and industrial technology. The major also requires the completion of specialization courses, in which students work with a professor to create a focus for themselves, such as marketing, human resources, business/finance, industrial engineering, or product design.

CONTACTS: Gazo, (765) 494-3634; e-mail:; Mills, (765) 494-3575;

Smiles are the dividends for economics students, 4-H

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- An economics course at Purdue University aims to create compassionate future business leaders while helping about 75 at-risk children. And right in the middle is 4-H, teaming compassionate adults with needy children, and helping each learn from -- and about -- the other.

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Management students in Professor John Pomery's undergraduate course -- Learning, Culture and Community -- met each week at three Indianapolis public housing projects to tutor Indianapolis Public School children in grades kindergarten through five, or just to spend time reading and talking together. Their involvement is part of "Project High Hopes," a collaboration between the Purdue School of Management, the Purdue Department of 4-H Youth and the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service office in Marion County.

High Hopes brings together Purdue students, community-based site coordinators and high school peer educators to help 20 to 25 elementary students at each of the three public housing sites on the south side of Indianapolis. The Purdue students prepare for their field experience by covering the coursework while they're making the 120-mile round trip between West Lafayette and Indianapolis.

"We have topical discussions in the van as we drive to and from our destination," Pomery says. "The topics range from the impact of labeling individuals to the students' reflections on a particular issue or experience at the site."

Pomery, who teaches business ethics, says involvement with the children has allowed his students to expand their view of the world.

"The experience moves students outside of thinking of things solely as economic issues," he says. "We hope that they learn to recognize potential where it may not be visible on the surface. That can be a very valuable tool for future managers, no matter what area of business they go into."

Pomery says the students also learn how the learning process is different for all individuals.

"Not everyone learns the same way," he says. "We all have different motivators and different life experiences that affect the way we learn. This project exposes the Purdue students to a world many have never seen before and gives them a better understanding of diversity within a community."

With 4-H and Extension educators in every county in Indiana, organizers hope to add more tutoring sites next year by increasing the participation of Purdue students and adding students from other schools around the state.

CONTACT: Pomery, (765) 494-4515,

Expert: Be more concerned about food safety than Y2K

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- You may have more to fear from home canning by novices than from Y2K computer crashes, says a Purdue University specialist.

Concerns about social and economic disruptions that might occur if computers crash at midnight on the last day of this year have prompted some people of both prudent and radical philosophies to investigate canning their own food. But Purdue Cooperative Extension Service foods and nutrition specialist Bill Evers says food preserved at home by inexperienced canners may be the more potent threat.

"Some people want to preserve their own food because they think that all of the supply and food delivery systems will fail at 12:01 a.m. on New Year's Day. We feel that the chance of food poisoning from home-preserved food is greater than the very, very unlikely chance of a collapse of the food delivery system," Evers says.

"In low-acid foods, essentially all non-fruits, the botulinum organism can grow and have a great time if it is not eliminated in the canning process. Canning requires pressure cooking with the proper canner at 10 pounds pressure to kill the organism and make food safe."

Evers points out that in addition to the danger of botulism, any food that is improperly handled is subject to growth of other food poisoning bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, all of which can cause serious sickness or death.

For those who are concerned abut Y2K, he recommends common-sense planning such as laying in a few days supply of some dried foods. "If a person wants to, he or she could keep some dried milk, cereal, bread and a few containers of water."

CFS-119, "Keeping Food Safe During Emergencies," and similar publications on canning and food safety are available from Purdue Extension county offices, via the Internet or toll-free at (888) EXT-INFO (398-4636).

CONTACT: Evers, (765) 494-8546;

Compiled by Chris Sigurdson, (765) 494-8415;

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

Amit Jain of Glenrock, N.J., a Purdue junior who is majoring in management, tutors a group of elementary students from the Indianapolis Public Schools. He does the work as part of a Purdue class that meets once a week at three public housing sites in Indianapolis.
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Pomery.hihopes

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