sealPurdue Points of Pride

Alumni and Friends

* Long known as "the mother of astronauts," Purdue University has had 22 of its alumni chosen for space flight, including Neil A. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and Eugene A. Cernan, the last. Both are engineering alumni.

* Amelia Earhart, whose disappearance during her abortive round-the-world flight in 1937 is still rumor material, had a long-standing relationship with Purdue University. The Lockheed Electra she piloted during the attempt was purchased chiefly with funds from the Purdue Research Foundation, and she served for several years before the ill-fated flight as a part-time adviser on aeronautics and as a career counselor for women students.

* Purdue University is the nation's leader in the education of women engineers. It has graduated more than any other university. More than 1,300 are enrolled currently.

* Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering produces the largest number of Ph.D.s in the Midwest.

* There are more than 60,000 living Purdue University alumni with engineering degrees. One of every 50 engineers in the country is a Purdue graduate.

* General Motors Corp. employs more graduates of Purdue University than of any other university. Since 1980, Purdue has been second only to General Motors Institute in supplying employees to General Motors Corp.

* Alumni of Purdue University's Department of Psychological Sciences include John McNamara, one of the original M's in M&M candies, and Jim Kuhn, vice president of individuality at McDonald's Corp.

* The famous Muppet character, Kermit the Frog, was named for a professor of philosophy at Purdue University. Theodore Kermit Scott grew up in Leland, Miss., with Muppet creator Jim Henson, who borrowed Scott's middle name for his most famous creation.

* Other noted alumni:

  • George Ade, humorist

  • John T. McCutcheon, editorial cartoonist

  • Orville Redenbacher, business leader and popcorn entrepreneur

  • David Ross, inventor, manufacturer

  • R. Games Slaytor, inventor of Fiberglass

  • Booth Tarkington, novelist


Faculty and students march around the water sculpture before commencement

* Purdue was among the first universities in the nation to offer a "performance guarantee" for its teaching graduates during their first-year on the job (established in 1984).

* Purdue University is one of only 19 U.S. teacher leader training sites for the Reading Recovery early intervention literacy program.

* Since Purdue University started its Minority Engineering Program in 1974, engineering enrollment of blacks, Hispanics and American Indians has grown more than threefold, with a proportionate increase in graduates. The National Society of Black Engineers was founded at Purdue.

* Purdue University is the nation's leader in the education of women engineers. It has graduated more than any other university. More than 1,300 are enrolled currently.

Facilities and Size

* With almost 64,000 students systemwide, Purdue is one of the 10 largest universities in the country. About 35,000 of those are enrolled on the West Lafayette campus.

* The Purdue University "All-American" Marching Band and its bass drum are believed to be the nation's largest.

* Purdue employs the equivalent of more than 23,000 full-time people, making it the seventh largest employer in Indiana.

* The Public Affairs Video Archives at Purdue University is the national education and research archives of C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. Brian Lamb, C-SPAN chairman and CEO, is a Purdue alum.

* The Purdue University Airport, established in 1930, was the first university-owned airport in the nation. ( It serves as a public airport for the Greater Lafayette area. Services available include flight training, aircraft sales and service, scheduled air service and charter flight service.)

* The Aviation Technology Department is one of just three in the U.S. with its own Boeing 727 airliner for use in aeronautical engineering classes. Purdue is the only university in the country to utilize two Boeing 727 flight simulators for student education.

* The Recreational Gymnasium, commonly called the Co-Rec, was the first university building in the United States built solely to serve students' recreational sports needs. (Constructed from March 1954 to September 1957.) The building was expanded in 1980-81. The facility offers Purdue students, faculty and staff a comprehensive recreational sports program.

* About 11,500 students can be housed in Purdue University residence halls. Purdue has the largest residence hall system in the country that does not require students to live in university housing.

* Purdue also boasts one of the largest fraternity and sorority systems in the country.

* Purdue University's Department of Building Construction and Contracting has the only indoor laboratory, which can provide outdoor field experience for students.


* The Credit Research Center in Purdue University's Krannert School of Management is the only nonprofit organization in the world that conducts basic research in consumer and mortgage credit; provides data and analysis of credit trends, issues and the economy; and determines the impact of legislative and judicial actions upon consumers and the credit industry.

* Wheat yields have more than doubled in the past 20 years because of improved varieties developed at Purdue University by Purdue and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers.

* Purdue's COAST (Computer Operations, Audit and Security Technology) Laboratory, dedicated to computer security, is the largest academic computer security research group in the world. The center maintains close ties to researchers and engineers in major companies and government agencies. Research is focused on real-world needs and limitations.

* Purdue University has developed 24 improved soft red winter wheat varieties and 19 spring oats varieties since 1950. Purdue-developed wheat varieties are grown on more than 80 percent of the U.S. acreage planted in soft red winter wheat.

* Researchers in Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering designed and operate the only facility in the county used to test the design of the next generation of nuclear reactors. The Purdue University Multidimensional Integral Test Assembly (PUMA) is a scaled-down model of the simplified boiling water reactor - a new design that uses gravity rather than mechancial pumps to automatically cool the reactor in case of an accident.

* Purdue University has the largest apple-breeding program in the world.

* Purdue's Department of Biological Sciences is recognized worldwide for its studies on the structures of viruses. Researchers use a combination of cryo-electron microscopy, crystallography and molecular biology to study the processes of viral entry, replication and pathogenesis. In 1985, a group directed by Purdue researcher Michael Rossmann became the first to solve the structure of an animal virus when it mapped, in atomic detail, the three-dimensional structure of a common cold virus.

* Both high-lysine corn and high-lysine sorghum were developed by Purdue University researchers.

* A Purdue engineer helped develop the first blue-green laser diode.

* A Purdue physicist developed the theory of dynamic nuclear polarization, which provides the basis for nuclear magnetic resonance techniques used widely in medicine.

* A Purdue professor cloned the first disease-resistance gene for crop plants.

* Purdue researchers were the first to reproduce a black-and-white television picture.

* Return to Points of Pride menu