New aerospace Research Park will benefit students, research

Aviation Technology students learn about turbine engines.

The creation of the Purdue Research Park Aerospace District, including the purchase of Lafayette Aviation, means expanded educational opportunities for Aviation Technology students and faculty as early as Fall 2015.

The new district encompasses 980 acres, including Purdue University Airport where Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology is headquartered. Mitch Daniels, Purdue University president, announced the new endeavor April 21.

“We are creating our own aviation ecosystem,” said John Wensveen, head of the department. “We have a department that is growing and evolving along with a fully functioning airport that also acts as one of the world’s biggest classroom, lab and research facilities.”

The hands-on nature of the facilities makes Purdue’s aviation graduates more attractive to employees, Wensveen said. The addition of Lafayette Aviation, which will be renamed Purdue Aviation, will bring even more real-world learning opportunities for students.

“Purdue Aviation is a real working business that we can embed into our curriculum. Faculty will be able to use that as a classroom and as a laboratory. It strengthens the offerings of our academic curriculum,” Wensveen said.

He is also excited about the potential academic and economic impact of the Aerospace District, which he says creates a “one-stop shop for education, training, research and employment.”

When aviation and aerospace-related businesses elect to locate in the park, aviation students will have increased access to local internships and possible employment after graduation. The companies would also be partners in research opportunities with faculty in the department and across campus. Wensveen says non-aerospace businesses may find the district attractive, too, because of the wide range of research resources available at Purdue.

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