A trip down 'Memory Lane'

My wife and I just returned from a real trip to nostalgia land. Among other things, we drove to West Lafayette, Indiana, to visit my alma mater, Purdue University. We wanted to see how my old school was training the electrical and computer engineers of the future.

We had not been back to the Purdue campus since 1960 when I finished my graduate work and moved to the West Coast.

My home for nine years was the Department of Electrical Engineering, now the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. I did my undergraduate work there and then, for five years, was on the teaching faculty of the Department while doing my graduate work. I wanted to see if the old red brick Midwestern factory looking building was still there.

It was and my old office was still in the lower level though my old plastic name plate was missing from the door and new brass name plate holders had taken its place. Incidentally, my old plastic name plate is in front of me on my computer desk here in Tustin.

A lot has changed inside the old building. Much of it still looks like it did in the 1950s but the old motor laboratory is gone, replaced by a number of smaller, specialized digital device laboratories. And, the building now is air conditioned. Attached to the old building is the new Material Science building where many of the faculty have offices and laboratories. I visited one of the new laboratories but didn’t understand much of what they were doing.

Curriculum also has changed to reflect modern times. I now see courses in “Elements of Electro and Fiber Optics,” and “Fundamentals of Nanoelectronics,” things unheard of in my time there. And our host, Margarita Contreni, the Development Director, took us to the new, multimillion dollar NanoTechnology Center in Purdue’s new research park. Very impressive with its massive level 4 clean room facility and unbelievably well equipped faculty laboratories. Its multidiscipline staff is the wave of the future. I had many moments where I wished I still was there.

When I was attending Purdue there were about twelve thousand total students. This year there are over thirty thousand. And we have added new schools, like Veterinary Medicine and Liberal Arts. And when I attended, out of state annual tuition was $180. During 2005-06, out of state tuition was $19,824. Purdue engineering schools still are rated in the top ten in the nation according to “US News and World Report.” But today there are many more coeds on campus; a pleasant addition from my days when few women were on campus or went into engineering.

My wife and I were married just before graduate school so we visited the houses where we lived during that time. Somehow they seem smaller now. And we visited with a few old friends, now retired, who taught there when we did. One friend did his undergraduate and graduate work at Purdue and then stayed as a professor until he recently retired. A long time. I was offered an Assistant Professorship when I graduated, but after nine years of school, California looked awfully good.

So we really enjoyed our trip back in time. West Lafayette is a beautiful university town with many things in its favor. I don’t think we are ready to move back but the memories are very pleasant except possibly for the weather. I must mention that before leaving, we visited the bookstore where I purchased five or six Purdue T-shirts to keep the memories alive.

If you would like to hear more about our trip back in time, or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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