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March 5, 2014

Checking out Purdue’s New Albany campus

Parents and students take a look at local facility

NEW ALBANY — Remote controlled quad-copters and a trebuchet constructed from parts produced from a laser cutter sat in front of a trio of 3D printers. Kasey Cassady said it looked like she could learn a lot, but there was something else that attracted her to the campus.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s the buttons,” Cassady, a sophomore at Silver Creek High School said. “I just like how you can create a bunch of different things and you don’t really have any limitations.”

Cassady was one of about 40 prospective students touring the Purdue College of Technology in New Albany on Tuesday. With the chance to look at their design, mechanical and electrical engineering programs, she said the idea of becoming some kind of engineer appealed to her.

“Most of the time, you get to work with your hands. You’re not sitting at a desk, clicking a mouse,” Cassady said. “You get to build things.”

Andrew Takami, director of the campus, said as their focus on science, technology, engineering and math attract students, it also makes a difference for the region in terms of business.

He said as more industrial development comes to Southern Indiana, those companies will want a workforce that’s suited for the kinds of jobs they’ll have before they relocate to the area.

“We are the engine that’s going to educate for that,” Takami said. “I think a lot of times, people in this area may not realize that an educational institution makes a difference in bringing these economic drivers.”

But the education isn’t the only part that matters to some of the people who toured the facility on Tuesday. Cassady’s father, Mark, said the location made a big difference, especially since they visited Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.

“Myself and her mother would like her to be closer to home,” Mark said. “I would still recommend she get an apartment or a place of her own, but it would be nice to have her half an hour away instead of four hours away.”

But the machines they saw weren’t just for display. Joe Dues, professor of mechanical engineering technology, said students use them regularly for classes to get an understanding of their field of study.

“What I most missed as an undergrad was working on the machines,” Dues said. “From the first semester, we focus on getting their hands dirty as soon as possible.”

There were also some parents visiting who wanted to learn about programs the college is about to add to its repertoire. Jack Koetter, real estate services broker and CEO of The Koetter Group, brought his son, Jack, to learn about its construction management program.

“It doesn’t get much better than Purdue,” Koetter said. “He was talking about wanting to go somewhere closer and to a top-notch school for a construction management degree.”

Jeff Wehr, a mechanical engineering technology junior, helped with the event. He said he’s glad he attends the college and knows a lot of other people who wish they started there.

“Just knowing all my professors, knowing they’ve all got field experience and have had successful careers makes a difference for me,” Wehr said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who have come here after other schools and said they like it. When they’re here, they said they feel at home.”

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Ron Banet, Greenville, of MAC Construction & Excavating, uses an excavator to remove portions of the sidewalk and curb along East Main Street in New Albany in this March 2014 file photo.

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