sealPurdue Business, Finance and Tech Briefs

May 1999

Smiles are the dividends for Purdue economics students

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- An economics course at Purdue University aims to create compassionate future business leaders while helping about 75 at-risk children.

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Management students in Professor John Pomery's undergraduate course -- Learning, Culture and Community -- meet 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."

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,

Y2K problem has its positives, Purdue retail expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The doom and gloom of potential computer glitches in the year 2000 may be overshadowing the beneficial side of the current rush to make computers compatible with the new millennium.

"Solving Y2K problems has forced businesses to confront the way they do business," says Richard Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing and director of the Purdue University Center for Customer-Driven Quality. "As a result, unexpected ways to better serve the customer are being found that are unrelated to computers."

He predicts some very positive benefits from the massive effort to upgrade computers and make sure that products and services are available in the new year. Among them:

  • Y2K fears could stimulate the economy if retailers and businesses stock up on inventory just in case deliveries or manufacturing are interrupted.

  • These increased inventories in the first quarter of 2000 may mean terrific values for customers, as businesses sell off their excess stock.

  • Updated computer systems improve the ability of businesses to partner with vendors and manufacturers. These improved relationships may mean that products reach customers faster and at a better price.

  • Y2K has created thousands of jobs, as businesses need experts and consultants and new products to identify and deal with Y2K concerns.

    CONTACT: Feinberg, (765) 494-8303,

    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;

    Second edition of call center 'how to' book released

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University Press has just released a second edition of its popular "Wake Up Your Call Center: How to Be a Better Call Center Agent," by Rosanne D'Ausilio.

    In this revised and expanded edition, D'Ausilio includes a discussion of Y2K, updated statistics, more on managing workplace conflict, a chapter for technical support staff, and expanded references.

    "We have lots of talk covering technical information and training, software, hardware, new systems and a whole new language," says D'Ausilio, an industrial psychologist and consultant who also is the president of Human Technologies. "But we haven't forgotten the people. They are too often dropped out of the picture, and we can't let that happen, because the people make the difference."

    Peter McGarahan, executive director for Help Desk Institute, says the book is full of practical information.

    "I have read many books on personal development programs and how to implement the best-in-class call center, but this is the best book I have read that finally brings these two topics together," he says. "I encourage call center and help desk managers to pass it on to their representatives. The book is grounded with real-life examples and applications. I smiled all the way through as it reminded me of my experiences as a help desk representative."

    Patricia D. Hamilton, a manager in sales training and communications with Delta Air Lines Inc., says her company used the "Wake Up Your Call Center" philosophy to resolve issues it had with customer service in an extremely stressful environment.

    "The results were incredible," she says. "Customer service has improved, morale is up, and our agents are able to deal more positively with their workload."

    "Wake Up Your Call Center (ISBN 1-55753-169-2) costs 44.95. For ordering information, call (800) 933-9637. A sample e-book version of the first edition is available on Purdue University Press' Web site.

    CONTACT: Jon Simpson, publicity associate for Purdue University Press, (765) 494-2038;

    Compiled by Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073;

    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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