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This Is Purdue

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This Is Purdue, the official podcast for Purdue University, highlights stories about Boilermakers from across all disciplines, who through research, innovation and determination, have persistently pursued their next giant leap.


Hosted by Purdue University alum, Brian Lamb School of Communication graduate, and Indiana native Kate Young, This is Purdue aims to examine all of the incredible accomplishments of Boilermakers and their contributions to the world.


Join us every other Thursday as we interview students, faculty, and alumni taking small steps toward their giant leaps, and inspiring others to do the same.

110 Episodes
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In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re discussing the return of commercial flights to the Purdue University Airport and highlighting the university’s renowned history in aviation.   Listen as Adam Baxmeyer (BS aviation administration ’02; MPA ’22, Purdue Global), director of the Purdue University Airport, and Rob Wynkoop, vice president of Auxiliary Services, share the importance of the Purdue Airport building upon the university’s nearly 100-year legacy in aviation excellence.   After 20 years commercial flights are returning to the Purdue University Airport, connecting West Lafayette and Chicago. Find out how the Purdue University Airport offers more convenient and cost-effective travel options for the Greater Lafayette community.  Plus, you’ll learn more about the largest classroom on campus — the Purdue Airport — as Tom Carney (AAS general aviation ’70; BS professional flight technology ’71; MS aviation climatology ’77; PhD atmospheric sciences and meteorology ’84), professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Aviation Technology, delves into the history of why Purdue has one of the strongest aviation programs in the country.   “There's no other place I could have flown the former president, Jimmy Carter, or the Dalai Lama or the first and last astronauts to walk on the moon than at Purdue University,” Tom says.  We also take you behind the scenes with Tom in Purdue’s Hawker 900XP full-motion simulator. This level D flight simulator — the highest level available — imitates all the aircraft systems that are accessible in the cockpit. You don’t want to miss this special episode!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to three Boilermakers who work behind the scenes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to execute “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” — the Indianapolis 500.  Listen as David Letherman (BS management ’15), senior manager of event personnel; Meredith Walker (BS management, marketing ’11), senior manager of VIP and talent experience; and Louis Kissinger (BS chemical engineering ’17), senior manager of events and administration, share how the problem-solving skills they learned during their time at Purdue prepared them to host hundreds of thousands of people at the iconic IMS.  Plus, you’ll hear behind-the-scenes stories on the infectious buzz surrounding the month of May in Indianapolis, can’t-miss Indy 500 events and the best spots to watch the race. They also look ahead to the future and discuss why Indy 500 attendance numbers are rising with new partnerships and explain more about the events intended to attract new audiences and enhance existing fans’ experience.  The IMS hosts more than 200 events each year, and David, Meredith and Louis have dedicated their careers to making sure every guest — race fan or not — has an unforgettable experience at this legendary venue.   Don’t miss this episode as these three Boilermakers go in-depth on what it takes — and how it feels — to pull off the largest single-day sporting event in the world.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to five members of Purdue’s Cradle of Astronauts: Sirisha Bandla (BS aeronautical and astronautical engineering ’11), Drew Feustel (BS solid earth sciences ’89, MS geophysics ’91), Beth Moses (BS aeronautical and astronautical engineering ’92, MS aeronautics and astronautics ’94), Mark Polansky (BS aeronautical and astronautical engineering ’78, MS aeronautics and astronautics ’78) and Audrey Powers (BS aeronautical and astronautical engineering ’99).  These five Purdue astronauts came together for the first time at the live “This Is Purdue” podcast panel during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Event, presented by Purdue University.   Listen as this panel of astronauts, which includes Boilermakers with both NASA and commercial spaceflight backgrounds at Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Barrios Technology, share what they found most surprising about their personal experiences in space, the specialness behind viewing a total solar eclipse with more than 50,000 people at the iconic IMS and their perspectives on where the future of spaceflight is heading.  Plus, you’ll hear how the journeys and legacies of past Boilermaker astronauts brought them to Purdue, how their passion for space exploration deepened as students and what it means to them to inspire the next generation to take the leap into space as future members of Purdue’s Cradle of Astronauts.  Check out this memorable episode — it’s only on “This Is Purdue,” the official Purdue University podcast!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Erik Miller, owner and winemaker of Kokomo Winery and Breaking Bread Winery.   Listen as Erik (BS organizational leadership ’99) shares the journey of working his way up from a wine harvest intern to conceptualizing and later founding his own winery in Healdsburg, California, in the heart of Sonoma County. Erik’s entrepreneurial spirit has helped make Kokomo Winery an award-winning winery in California, where becoming a household name is increasingly difficult. He dives into the story behind the name, which highlights his appreciation for his Indiana roots and instills a warm, Midwestern atmosphere inside the winery. And he encourages all Midwesterners, especially Boilermakers, to come say hi if they ever find themselves near Kokomo Winery!  You’ll also learn more about the winemaking process as Erik delves into his latest entrepreneurial endeavor, Breaking Bread Winery, a line of natural wines best enjoyed with a meal. Plus, he discusses his collaboration with the Purdue for Life Foundation to create special edition Boilermaker wines — which sell out every year.  Erik recently returned to campus for the 2023 Purdue Entrepreneurial Alumni Reunion, which celebrated the legacy of Boilermaker entrepreneurs, and you’ll hear how his experiences at Purdue equipped him to exhibit the entrepreneurial mindset that the university is working to cultivate through its new Purdue Innovates initiative.   Don’t miss the story of this Boilermaker who used his persistence and innovation to turn his passion for winemaking into his own successful business more than 2,000 miles away from his hometown roots.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to PGA Tour golfer Adam Schenk.  Adam is a Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business alum and former first-team All-Big Ten Purdue men’s golfer, who has spent nearly a decade dedicated to his full-time career on the golf course. During this time, he secured his PGA Tour card and rapidly ascended the leaderboard, often competing alongside some of the world's top-ranked golfers. The 2023 season took him to new heights pursuing his first PGA Tour win and, in 2024, he continues that chase while preparing to play his first Masters.   Listen as he takes us back to his time playing for the Purdue men’s golf team, recounting his first collegiate tournament and what it felt like winning for a team, not just himself. Frequently returning to the Purdue golf courses, he loves mentoring and playing with current Boilermaker golfers, while practicing his own swing and preparing for major tournaments like the U.S. Open.  With his golden retriever, Bunker, at his side during practice, Adam discusses how he prepares to play with pro golf legends like Rory McIlroy on some of the most famous courses across the country. Adam says he loves seeing plenty of spectators in Purdue clothing and often hears a distant “Boiler Up!” from the bustling crowds at PGA tournaments.  Plus, Adam reflects on his unique friendship with his mentor, Purdue men’s golf coach Rob Bradley, who joins the podcast to discuss this duo’s journey from Purdue to the PGA Tour.  You don’t want to miss this conversation with a Boilermaker who is taking giant leaps in the world of professional golf.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Jennifer Rumsey, Chair and CEO of Cummins Inc.  Jennifer discusses her experience as a Purdue mechanical engineering student and how that led her to four internships with Cummins during her Boilermaker journey. Her story is unique because not many people can say they interned for a company and later served in the most senior role — CEO — of that same company.  Hear her share the importance of leading a 105-year-old company into the future and the long-lasting legacy she hopes to leave at Cummins. This includes Cummins’ Destination Zero strategy to go further, faster to reduce the greenhouse gas and air quality impacts of its products. You’ll also hear her biggest lessons and advice for fellow women in STEM and why she believes inclusivity and representation are necessary for shaping our society for the better. Plus, Jennifer shares what it means to see her own two daughters follow in her footsteps and pursue degrees in mechanical engineering at Purdue.  Don’t miss Jennifer’s incredible story of how she climbed the ladder from intern to CEO and the role Purdue has played in her life.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to former head coach Carolyn Peck and co-captains Stephanie White and Ukari Figgs as they reflect on the Purdue women’s basketball team’s 1999 NCAA National Championship.   Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this legendary win and listen as Coach Peck, Stephanie and Ukari share more about this historic season and the real story behind what happened when they arrived in San Jose for the Final Four of March Madness.  From starting the season beating No. 1-ranked Tennessee and selling out Mackey Arena for the first time ever to finally hoisting the championship trophy and cutting down the net after beating Duke in that championship game, you’ll hear behind-the-scenes stories from these three women who experienced it all. And you certainly don’t want to miss Ukari’s story about taking a mechanical engineering exam during the Final Four.  Plus, Stephanie, head coach of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, and Ukari, a mechanical engineer at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, discuss balancing Purdue’s academics while fighting for a national championship. They also share how Purdue helped set them up for success within the WNBA and, later, their careers outside of playing professional basketball. The friendship, commitment, determination and, of course, Boilermaker spirit that led this legendary women’s team to a national championship will forever be celebrated in the Purdue community.   Relive all the heart-wrenching, jaw-dropping and emotional moments in this special episode of “This Is Purdue.”
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Matt Folk, president and CEO of the Purdue for Life Foundation.  In this new “Boilermaker Bites” series, Matt joins podcast host Kate Young at 8Eleven Modern Bistro in the Purdue Memorial Union. Over a delicious meal of pasta with grilled scallops, Matt digs into Purdue for Life’s goal of helping everyone who is part of the Purdue community stay connected, get involved and give back.   Matt explains that by bringing together the Purdue Alumni Association, President’s Council and John Purdue Club, Purdue for Life provides opportunities for Boilermaker family, friends and fans to engage with Purdue and with one another.  He also shares stories from his time as a Boilermaker student in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering to owning his own company to now leading Purdue for Life. The foundation’s initiatives include the annual, ever-growing Purdue Day of Giving, the incredibly popular Grandparents University and the President’s Council yearly trip to Naples, Florida.  From frozen tuition to the establishment of new campus buildings to creating life-changing scholarships and more, the funds raised by Purdue for Life help keep the Purdue community we love thriving.   As a Boilermaker himself, Matt knows how deep the Purdue spirit runs — and that it doesn’t end after graduation. It lasts a lifetime.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Rochelle Dorn-Hayes, human resources director at Ford Motor Co.   Tune in as Rochelle shares more about her time at Purdue, where she earned her MBA from the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business. She carries with her the lessons learned from her beloved mentor, Dr. Cornell A. Bell, and the importance of providing guidance to the next generation of Boilermakers through her involvement in the Business Opportunity Program (BOP).  Rochelle also dives into her 25-plus-year career at Ford, including her work creating an award-winning diversity, equity and inclusion training program and her transition from finance to human resources.  You don’t want to miss Rochelle’s helpful insights, such as seeking out mentors and utilizing the buddy system when it comes to networking and exploring new career opportunities.
In this special 100th episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re celebrating and reflecting on our past episodes, which highlight Boilermakers who, through research, innovation and determination, have persistently pursued their next giant leap.   Over the last three years, our podcast team has featured more than 160 Boilermaker guests, produced over 50 hours of audio and created over 200 video clips. We’re celebrating these incredible milestones by answering questions from our loyal “This Is Purdue” fans.  Tune in to hear behind-the-scenes stories of our listeners’ favorite episodes, from athletics to engineering to space discoveries. You’ll also hear a few burning questions for several of our previous guests.   Join us for this look behind the microphone as we reflect on our stories with NASA engineers, two legendary men’s basketball head coaches, a 9/11 heroine, a mechanical engineering alumna who made IndyCar history and more.   Plus, several of our “This Is Purdue” team members step up to the mic themselves as they share what it takes to bring these incredible Boilermaker stories to life on the podcast.   Ever grateful, ever true. All hail “This Is Purdue”!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Jim Bullard, the Dr. Samuel R. Allen Dean of the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business.  Listen as Dean Bullard discusses his career journey from his time navigating obstacles like the Great Recession and COVID-19 pandemic as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to accepting his new role with the Daniels School of Business — an opportunity he calls “irresistible.”  Dean Bullard shares his excitement for the future and how he plans to use his robust real-world business and economics experience to innovate the Daniels School of Business.  “We want to really reimagine the Daniels School of Business … to make DSB parallel with the engineering prowess of Purdue University,” Dean Bullard says.   Plus, as technology continues to intersect with the business world, Dean Bullard explains the position Purdue is in to become a leader in STEM-based business and the importance of business and STEM working together.   Also, we get to know Dean Bullard on a more personal level as he discusses his enthusiasm to be part of a Big Ten university, what he likes to do in his free time in West Lafayette and his favorite movie. (Hint: This blockbuster movie features another “This Is Purdue” podcast guest and proud Purdue alum.)  Celebrate this new era of the Daniels School of Business by getting to know its new dean on “This Is Purdue.”
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re celebrating Boilermakers who provide practical solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.  Part 2 of our “Greatest Hits of 2023” shines a light on the incredible research advancements from Purdue Boilermakers as we reflect on all four of our 2023 Research Series episodes.  Listen as we highlight special moments from episodes with Purdue’s chief semiconductor officer Mark Lundstrom, food science professors Amanda Deering and Haley Oliver, associate professor of physics and astronomy and principal investigator of a program on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Danny Milisavljevic, and professor of anthropology Michele Buzon.  From semiconductors to food science to astronomy to bioarcheology, these researchers share more about the impact Purdue has had on their monumental developments in their respective fields.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re starting to ring in the new year with some of our most popular episodes from 2023.  Part 1 of our two-part “Greatest Hits of 2023” episode shines a light on the incredible stories and achievements of Boilermakers from across different disciplines.   Tune in as we share highlights from episodes featuring Purdue President Mung Chiang, fighter pilot Heather Penney, Pizza Hut U.S. President David Graves, Purdue deputy athletics director Tiffini Grimes, Team Penske IndyCar engineers Matt Kuebel and Mike Koenigs, and Purdue’s “Piano Man” Bruce Barker.  Celebrate the past year by listening to these Boilermakers who persistently pursue their next giant leaps. You don’t want to miss this one!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Sangtae Kim, the Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of Chemical Engineering and Distinguished Professor.  Sangtae dives into his family background — including what it was like growing up in a family of educators, his career at Eli Lilly and what brought him back to academia to lead Purdue University’s Davidson School of Chemical Engineering.  Listen as Sangtae discusses the significance of the growing number of women majoring in engineering and Purdue’s culture of solution-oriented students.   “Be part of the solution, not the problem, right?” Sangtae says. “It’s advice that I don’t have to give because that’s the nature of Purdue students and graduates.”    Plus, he shares what it means to him to be guiding and mentoring those walking in the same shoes he once did and his admiration for Purdue’s “excellence at scale.”
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Monica Keyes, wife of the late Purdue icon and former Boilermaker football player and coach Leroy Keyes.  Turns out, the couple met in a church bowling league in Philadelphia, Monica’s hometown, when Leroy was an NFL player for the Eagles. Week after week they happened to keep showing up in the same-colored shirts.   “I was learning how to bowl … and he and I began to have little wagers,” Monica reflects. “You know, ‘I’ll bet you a Coke.’ And that’s how our relationship grew.”  Monica’s introduction to Purdue came from a sweatshirt Leroy was wearing one day.   “I’m like, ‘Purdue, what is that? Is it an Ivy League school?’” Soon enough she would get to experience the Purdue community for herself. Leroy, who was a two-time All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate, took a job as a running backs coach with Purdue in 1995 under then-head football coach Jim Colletto.   At the time, Monica wouldn’t have guessed it. But soon enough, Purdue started to feel like home. By the early 2000s, Monica became a Boilermaker herself as she enrolled in a nurse practitioner master's program at Purdue.  Tune in to hear Monica share what it was like relocating to the Midwest, raising kids in the Boilermaker community and how Leroy’s legacy lives on.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Purdue’s “Piano Man,” Bruce Barker.  Despite growing up in Lafayette, Bruce didn’t see himself attending Purdue. He wasn’t the best student while in school, and he didn’t peg himself as someone who would succeed in college.   But after high school, he struggled to find meaningful work without a college degree. On a whim, he applied to Purdue. Pretty soon, Bruce was auditioning for the Varsity Glee Club, teaching himself to play piano and reinventing himself as the person we’ve come to know and love for decades — Purdue’s “Piano Man.”  In Bruce’s nearly three decades on the stage, he has become a beloved fixture in the Boilermaker community, attracting thousands to his weekly shows and even inspiring alumni to return from as far away as Georgia, Colorado, Florida and Texas.  Tune in to discover how Bruce got his job at the Neon Cactus, his favorite memories from performing in front of millions, the story of the night he met his wife during a performance, what it meant to give back to Purdue during the pandemic — and why he’s decided to hang up the mic at the end of the 2023 fall semester.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to former Purdue football quarterback Curtis Painter.   After Curtis’ time at Purdue, he stayed right here at home in Indiana, playing three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts before the Baltimore Ravens signed him, then closing out his professional career with the New York Giants.   Listen in as host Kate Young talks with Curtis about his time at Purdue. He reflects on highlights including a 62-10 blowout against Indiana University in the final game of Joe Tiller’s storied career, as well as breaking Drew Brees’ 1998 record for passing yards in a single season. Curtis also shares some of the biggest moments from his NFL career, including how he felt playing alongside football greats Eli and Peyton Manning.   Curtis takes us behind the scenes, from running onto the field at Ross-Ade for the first time in front of 60,000 fans and what it meant to play for the legendary Joe Tiller, to memories of the Colts playing in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, as well as his family’s legacy in Purdue Athletics.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Dave and Donna Beering, proud alumni and son and daughter-in-law of Dr. Steven C. Beering, former Purdue president.    If you’re a Boilermaker, you’ve likely heard the name "Beering” or possibly taken a class or two inside Beering Hall. But in this special interview, you’ll get to know the Beering family on a more personal level, including stories about Dr. Beering’s time as a physician in the Air Force and how Dave, then a Purdue student, found out his dad was named the next university president. Dave (BS electrical engineering ’85, MS electrical engineering ’87) reminisces about his dad telling him, “The name ‘Beering’ will appear on your diploma twice.”  Plus, Dave’s wife, Donna (BS aviation technology ’86), reflects on meeting Dave at the Purdue University Airport, performing as a Purduette through Purdue Musical Organizations, flying iconic Boilermakers like Gene Keady to games as an aviation student, and serving as a captain for United Airlines for more than 20 years.  You don’t want to miss this episode full of Boilermaker spirit and nostalgia!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Michele Buzon, professor of anthropology in Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts.  This marks the final episode in our 2023 Purdue Research Series, which shares how Purdue provides practical solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.   As a bioarchaeologist, Michele’s examination of skeletal remains can help us better understand the lives of everyday people who lived thousands of years ago. She and her team conduct research along the banks of the Nile River Valley in Tombos, Sudan, exploring what life was like in ancient Nubia — and why that still matters today.  Although Michele’s work explores the past, collaboration with researchers like Dr. Randall Loder at IU Health is helping her better understand present-day medical conditions like CAM lesions, an injury on the femur that has been found in young athletes. Previously thought to be a modern issue exclusive to athletes, Michele discusses how she and Dr. Loder found evidence of its existence in the ancient communities she studies.  Hear how Michele’s work brings many different people and disciplines together as she and her team look to better understand the past, from relationship-building with the local community in Sudan to analyzing finds.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to our new Purdue University head football coach, Ryan Walters.  Listen as Coach Walters describes how he felt when he got the call from Purdue Athletics Director Mike Bobinski and what it’s like to join the ranks of legendary Purdue football coaches like Jack Mollenkopf and Joe Tiller – and as one of the youngest collegiate head coaches in the entire country, no less!  But first, Coach Walters takes us back to where it all began, growing up in a family of football fanatics and demonstrating the persistence and tenacity he’s shown throughout his career that continues today as his family embraces life as Boilermakers.   He also shares some of the lessons learned along the way, including the importance of relationship-building when it comes to recruiting players like Hudson Card. As Coach Walters tells us, “The grass is green when you fertilize and water it, so I’m pouring into this job and into this community.”  What should Purdue football fans be excited about this season? How will Coach Walters feel as the new Tiller Tunnel, named after the late Coach Tiller, opens to a packed Ross-Ade Stadium during the home opener vs. Fresno State on Sept. 2? Tune in and find out.  As we head into a new era of Purdue football, you don’t want to miss this episode as “This Is Purdue” gets to know Coach Walters!
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Jan 27th
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Aug 19th
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