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50 ways Penn State has shaped the world

Since its founding in 1855, Penn State and its people have been leaving their mark on the world. From the viewing of the first atom, to the leading roles played by alumni in Desert Storm, Penn Staters have had a profound impact on the world and are leaving a legacy of contribution.

AMERICAN LITERATURE: Fred Lewis Pattee, who joined the faculty in 1894, became the first in the nation to hold the title of Professor of American Literature, a field then considered a minor subdiscipline of English literature. He helped make Penn State one of the earliest centers for American literature studies.

ANIMAL NUTRITION: In the early 1900s Professor Henry Armsby used a respiration calorimeter to try to determine the net energy value of food -- that is, the portion of food energy that an animal used to produce milk or meat. His experiments attracted worldwide interest and helped to develop livestock feeds of higher nutritive value.

ARCHITECTURAL ENGINEERING: Penn State offers America's oldest continuously accredited (since 1936) curriculum in this field. It introduced the curriculum in 1910 to provide "liberal training in both the aesthetic and construction sides of architecture."

ART EDUCATION: Penn State became an international center for art education when Austrian-born Viktor Lowenfeld joined the faculty in 1946. Lowenfeld was the most influential art educator of the 20th century and wrote the field's dominant book, Creative and Mental Growth, based on his pioneering work in psychology and the art of the visually impaired.

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION: Over a 30-year period beginning in 1946, dairy scientist John Almquist perfected commercially viable artificial insemination techniques for dairy cattle. His research has led to more than $600 million worth of increased food production and cost savings worldwide.

ARTIFICIAL ORGANS: A heart-assist pump developed by medical and engineering faculty in 1976 to prolong the lives of cardiovascular patients was the first surgically implantable, seam-free, pulsatile blood pump to receive widespread clinical use, and pioneered applications of fluid mechanics in this field.

ASTRONAUTS: Four Penn State alumni have flown in space: Paul Weitz, Robert Cenker and Guion S. Bluford Jr. (the first African-American astronaut, who flew on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983), and Assocate Professor of Kinesiology James Pawelczyk.

ASTRONOMY: Penn State, with the University of Texas, operates the Hobby-Eberly spectroscopic survey telescope, the largest instrument of its kind in the world, which measures individual wavelengths of light to reveal information about stars, galaxies, and other deep-space phenomena.

ATOM FIRST "SEEN": In 1955, physics Professor Erwin Mueller became the first person to "see" an atom, using a field ion electron microscope of his own invention. The device was a landmark advance in scientific instrumentation that allowed a magnification of more than 2 million times.

BEST-SELLING AUTHORS: Vance Packard (The Hidden Persuaders, The Status Seekers) earned his degree from Penn State in 1936. Jean Craighead George, a member of the class of 1941, authored the Newberry Award-winning children's book, Julie of the Wolves.

CINEMA: Penn State alumnus Julius Epstein won an Oscar for his screenplay for the classic Humphrey Bogart film, "Casablanca." Character actor Ed Binns, class of 1937, received critical praise for supporting roles in such box office favorites as "Patton" and "Fail Safe."

COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: Penn State alumni who have made their mark in television include Carmen Finestra, an executive producer and writer for the hit ABC-TV comedy "Home Improvement," Jonathan Frakes (Commander Wil Riker on the hit television series "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), and writer and director Stanley Lathan ("Cagney and Lacey," "Remington Steele" and "Sanford and Son").

CORRESPONDENCE COURSES: In 1892, Penn State became the first American college or university to offer correspondence courses in agriculture, an initiative that was followed by national expansion of correspondence instruction in many technical fields.

DIESEL ENGINEERING: One of the world's first academic research programs in diesel engineering began at Penn State in 1923. Discoveries in such areas as supercharging and scavenging helped to bring about today's fuel-efficient and powerful engines.

DISCOVERING PLANETS: Alexander Wolszczan, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, discovered the existence of three planets orbiting outside of our solar system -- the first scientist to do so.

DRIVER EDUCATION: Amos Neyhart taught America's first classes for driver education teachers at Penn State in 1936, three years after he began the nation's first driver education course at nearby State College High School.

ENGINEERS EVERYWHERE: One in 50 professionally licensed engineers in the U.S. is a Penn State graduate.

ENVIRONMENTALLY CORRECT: Polymer scientist Bernard Gordon III developed a biodegradable plastic that, with the assistance of water, disappears in two years. Early tests indicate that molecular weight of the polymer reduces as water is added, and at 120 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the material falls apart in three days.

ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS: The Noll Physiological Research Center, established in 1963, was the nation's first academic research center dedicated to studying human tolerance to heat, cold and other environmental stresses, and served as the prototype for similar labs worldwide.

FAMILY DOCTORS: Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 1967 became the nation's first medical school to establish a department of family and community medicine on the same level as traditional medical specialities. It also introduced a residency in the field, thus foreshadowing a renewed emphasis nationwide on family practitioners.

FIRST AG DEGREES: Penn State was the first American institution to confer baccalaureate degrees in agriculture, in 1861.

GERANIUMS: Penn State researchers developed the world's first commercially successful geranium grown from seed, the Nittany Lion Red.

GOLFERS' DELIGHT: Nine of every 10 golf courses worldwide use turfgrass varieties developed at Penn State, where agronomists since 1928 have been breeding grasses that are used extensively by homeowners, and for recreational and athletic purposes.

HEAVY WATER: Penn State physicist Ferdinand Brickwedde in 1931 produced the world's first measurable amount of deuterium, a hydrogen isotope needed to make "heavy water" -- an essential ingredient in basic atomic research.

ICE CREAM: In 1892 Penn State offered America's first collegiate instruction in ice cream manufacture, followed soon after by a pioneering "short course" program that has helped to make the University an international center for research in frozen confections. Ice cream gurus Ben and Jerry got their start from a correspondence course in ice cream making from Penn State.

INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING: The world's first baccalaureate curriculum in industrial engineering was introduced at Penn State in 1908.

MANAGEMENT EDUCATION: Established in 1915 as one of the nation's first continuing education programs for business and industry, Penn State's management education classes boosted Pennsylvania's economy by tailoring instruction to thousands of clients statewide in such fields as time management, employee motivation and leadership, and served as models for similar efforts nationally.

MATERIALS RESEARCH: In 1960, Penn State established the nation's first interdisciplinary curriculum in solid state technology and in 1962, created one of the first interdisciplinary research laboratories, which has since won international acclaim in materials synthesis, electroceramics, diamond films and chemically bonded ceramics.

MATHEMATICS: Mathematician Haskell Brooks Curry's research in the 1950s into the foundations of mathematics, especially his development of combinatory logic, later found significant application in computer science, particularly in the design of programming languages.

METEOROLOGISTS: One in every four meteorologists in the United States is a Penn State graduate.

MINORITY ENROLLMENT: Among more than 100 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, Penn State ranks second in the enrollment of African Americans and graduates more of these students than any other institution in the Commonwealth.

MUSHROOM RESEARCH: In the 1920s, Penn State became the first land-grant college to initiate a comprehensive mushroom research program. Researchers developed improved composts and production practices that were adopted by growers worldwide and also helped Pennsylvania retain its leadership as the No. 1 source of domestic mushrooms.

MUSIC: Fred Waring, nationally beloved choral leader ("The man who taught America how to sing" ) and founder of The Pennsylvanians, was a Penn Stater. So is Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and pianist Mike Reid ("Stranger in the House," "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" ).

NOBEL PRIZE: Stanford University biochemist Paul Berg, a member of Penn State's class of 1948, won a Nobel Prize in 1980 for his study of the biochemistry of nucleic acids.

NUCLEAR REACTOR: Penn State in 1955 became the first university to be issued a federal license to operate a nuclear reactor, which it continues to use for studies in the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the training of nuclear industry personnel.

PACEMAKER: A surgeon and two engineers at Penn State perfected the world's first long-life, rechargeable heart pacemaker.

PENN STATERS EVERYWHERE: Penn State has more than 466,000 living alumni. One in every 720 Americans, and one in every 70 Pennsylvanians, is a graduate of Penn State.

PERSONALITY TESTS: In 1931, psychologist Robert Bernreuter began refining his "Bernreuter Personality Inventory," a pioneer multiphastic test of traits that became the standard by which other personality tests were measured and is still used worldwide for counseling and personnel selection.

PETROLEUM RESEARCH: In the 1920s, Penn State researchers began pioneering investigations that identified the components of crude oil, leading to significant improvements in the refining process and the development of today's widely used lubricants that can withstand extremes of heat and cold.

PLAYWRIGHTS: The hit Broadway play "Give 'em Hell, Harry," based on the life of President Harry Truman and authored by Penn State alumnus Samuel Gallu, was made into a critically acclaimed motion picture. So was Penn Stater John Pielmeier's "Agnes of God," which received three Academy Award nominations.

PROGESTERONE: Pioneer steroid chemist Russell Marker's work in synthesizing the hormone progesterone in the 1930s laid the foundation for the birth control pill and such medical applications as cortisones and various hormone and steroid therapies.

PUBLIC TELEVISION: The first national conference of educators and broadcasters was held at Penn State in 1952 and urged the Federal Communications Commission to set aside licenses for noncommercial use. The FCC responded favorably, thus providing the regulatory basis for today's system of public television stations.

PURE FOOD: Pennsylvania's and the nation's pure food laws stem partly from the work of pioneer chemist William Frear, who in the early 1900s analyzed foods for government agencies and headed an expert committee whose recommendations shaped the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

R VALUES: This widely adopted standard of heat resistance, used to measure the insulating properties of such materials as fiberglass and window glass, was developed by Everett Shuman, who in the 1960s headed Penn State's Building Research Institute.

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS: One out of every four senior school administrators in Pennsylvania is a graduate of Penn State.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY: In 1969-70, Penn State established the nation's first interdisciplinary program in science, technology and society. Its integrative courses addressing critical issues in these areas served as a model for similar programs at many other universities.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Penn State alumnus Charles Krumreich invented the telephone jack. More than a billion of his patented Jack-11 square plastic plugs are used worldwide for telephones, modems, and fax machines.

TOYMAKER: Herman Fisher, co-founder and longtime chairman of the board of Fisher Price, one of the nation's largest toymakers, graduated from Penn State in 1921.

VISIONARY EDUCATOR: Evan Pugh, Penn State's first president (1859-64), was among the first nationally recognized advocates of adding science, agriculture and engineering to traditional collegiate studies.

WEATHER PREDICTION: Meteorologist Hans Panofsky conducted fundamental work at Penn State (1952-82) that led to a new understanding of atmospheric turbulence, air pollution, ozone depletion and planetary atmospheres, and was among the first to apply computer analysis to weather prediction.