The Purdue University School of Chemical Engineering has a newly upgraded Operations laboratory.
CountryMark, a strong supporter of agricultural causes, this time stepped outside of the box and gave $25,000 toward this $550,000 project. For once, CountryMark CEO, part of the ribbon cutting ceremonies on the newly upgraded facility, wasn't rubbing shoulders with Purdue College of Agriculture Dean Jay Akridge during the event. Instead, Akridges's counterparts in chemical engineering were there to thank Smith for his company's efforts in supporting the project.
Purdue has one of the largest chemical engineering college programs in the U.S., with 30 faculty members, 530 undergraduate students and 2432 graduate students. More than 20 PhD degrees were granted through the program in the last academic year.
CountryMark's business, drilling for oil and refining oil into various products at its Mt. Vernon refinery, steps across the line of agriculture. The company needs people like chemical engineers who understand how to do these processes efficiently and effectively.
What this project did, with the help of the aid from CountryMark, was bring the level of the lab up to the state-of-the-art standards of other labs in the department. Students now have the tools they need to do research projects which will have practical applications in a number of ways.
Smith believes one reason Purdue's chemical engineering program is so successful is because many of the students who come to Purdue have Midwestern roots, with good ethics and an understanding of what it means to work hard to complete a project or reach a goal.
The renovations were completed this summer. Students are able to use the upgraded facilities for the first time this fall.
CountyMark explores for oil, and has 1,400 oil wells operating daily. The company is the state's premier supplier of fuels and lubricants for farmers.