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Too Much Information 2012: the Purdue Edition

Purdue Logo
Purdue Logo

Week 9 Penn State travels to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers. Did you know that Purdue's mascot is actually a train? You will know that after reading Too Much Information: the Purdue edition.

What the hell is a Boilermaker anyway?

About the University

Like most universities of the time, Purdue was created to take advantage of the Morrill Act which was legislation passed by President Abraham Lincoln that gave each state 30,000 acres of federal land to build colleges. Lafayette businessman John Purdue (ed. note: that little nugget of trivia should win you some free drinks the next time you’re talking football at your local watering hole – you’re welcome) donated land and money to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture in his name. Purdue enrolls the second largest student body of any university in Indiana as well as the second largest international student population of any public university in the United States.

Fun Facts:

• Purdue University is well known for its diverse majors in aerospace.

• The Purdue University Airport was the first university-owned airport in the United States.

• Purdue was the first university in the world to award a four-year bachelor’s degree in aviation

• Hugh Hefner’s famous Playboy DC-9 aircraft was leased from Purdue, and its permanent storage was at Purdue University.

• Famed aviator Amelia Earhart came to Purdue in 1935 and served as a "Counselor on Careers for Women," a staff position she held until her disappearance in 1937.


Athletic teams of Purdue University are officially nicknamed Boilermakers. The nickname dates back to 1891 when the Purdue football team defeated nearby rival Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana 44–0. A local paper, the Crawfordsville Daily Argus News, recapped the game on October 26, 1891 with the headline: "Slaughter of Innocents: Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue." Back then Engineering students heated and molded their own metal just like "blacksmiths" and "boilermakers" that do it for a living. The Daily Argus was taking a pot shot at Purdue basically saying the "scientific" men of Wabash couldn’t handle the burly knuckle draggers of Purdue.

Despite its negative connotation, the name stuck. A lot of people mistakenly believe that Purdue Pete is the official mascot of Purdue University.


This is NOT the official mascot

Despite his visible and constant on-field presence at Purdue sporting events, Pete is not the official mascot of the university. The official mascot of Purdue is the Boilermaker Special.


THIS is the 'official' mascot

The Boilermaker Special is a Victorian-era railroad locomotive and is built on a truck chassis. It is operated and maintained by the student members of the Purdue Reamer Club. In 1939, Purdue student Israel Selkowitz suggested the school adopt an official mascot to represent Purdue’s engineering heritage. He originally proposed a "mechanical man". After much debate, it was decided to build a locomotive on an automobile chassis. This choice allowed the mascot to build on Purdue’s engineering and railroading heritage, as well as represent the school’s nickname "Boilermakers" in a meaningful way. Financial and moral support for the first Boilermaker Special was provided by key members of the Purdue University graduating class of 1907, and members of the Purdue Reamer Club from the graduating classes of 1940 and 1941. To this day it is operated and maintained by the student members of the Purdue Reamer Club.

Football related data

Last Season: 7-8 (Won the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Purdue joined the Big Ten Conference in 1896 and have been Conference Champions 8 times. Despite the 8 championships (7 co-championships), Purdue has appeared in only 2 Rose Bowls winning 1 in 1967 with NFL hall-of-famer Bob Griese leading the team. The Boilermakers have appeared in 16 bowl games, compiling a record of 9-7.

Purdue is known as the "Cradle of Quarterbacks." Purdue QBs have thrown more touchdowns in the NFL (1,311) than any other university. Purdue has knocked off the #1 ranked football team in college football seven times over the years—the third most of all the Division I teams in college football.

Famous Alumni

Of course with a thriving aerospace program you can bet some pretty important people graduated from Purdue, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, was a Boilermaker. Before dying in the tragic Apollo 1 accident Virgil Grissom graduated a Boiler. Before ‘successfully’ ditching his plane in the Hudson and becoming an instant household name, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was a Boilermaker.


Fan or not, this is pretty cool

Designer of the Golden Gate Bridge Charles Alton Ellis called Purdue home. Inventor of the wiki concept, Ward Cunningham, went to Purdue. Manhattan Project physicist Haroutune Krikor Daghlian Jr. was a Boilermaker, unfortunately he was also the first peacetime fatality of nuclear fission when he accidentally irradiated himself during a critical mass experiment. Before he led the A-team George Peppard was a Boilermaker.


I love it when a plan comes together

UPS Chairman and CEO Michael L. Eskew graduated from Purdue, and finally before making popcorn a staple of American snack cuisine, Orville Redenbacher called himself a Boiler.

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