Around the Big Ten

News from the home cities and states of the Big Ten universities:

PURDUE: Shuttle end could change students' dreams

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – The U.S. government's decision to retire the shuttle program could force students in Purdue University's space program to rethink their career goals, but experts predict no shortage of opportunities.

President Barack Obama plans to move forward with the development of a new space vehicle, relying on private industry to design and test the system.

That could be good news for students who are looking for jobs as engineers, researchers and designers, especially in the private sector.

"If I was advising undergrads, I would say the space business is going to be better in the next 10 years than it was in the past 20," said Alan Stern, a former high-level administrator at NASA who now works as a consultant. "NASA only spends a fraction of its budget on its own employees. Most goes to contract aerospace firms from all over."

Purdue's aeronautics program is rich in history. The university is known as the "cradle of astronauts" and has produced 22 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom and David Wolf. Thousands of other graduates have worked as engineers for shuttle missions.

Purdue, which has received $72 million in research grants from NASA since 2002, says it is well-positioned to adapt to a changing space program.

"You can look at this as an opportunity. We've been seeing a lot of our graduates opting for private companies like SpaceX," said Professor Marc Williams. The California-based company has been chosen by NASA to develop a rocket and spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station in 2011.

But some students say they're concerned that the U.S. shift away from the shuttle will leave many without jobs, or will dash their dreams.

"Becoming an astronaut has been my ultimate dream," said Alexander Roth, a senior from New Jersey whose aspirations grew out of a weekend space camp he attended at age 7. "With the current plan ... I am a little worried. We will have no way to bring astronauts into space for a few years or possibly a decade or longer."

Senior Dan Kolenz is also worried.

"There is no replacement for the space shuttle, and the people that worked on that program are going to have no place to go," Kolenz said.

Purdue graduate B.J. Austin, who founded a company that works on jet propulsion technologies, takes a more optimistic view. He hopes to tap into some of the business created as new programs emerge.

"If the changes go through as planned, there will be a much higher emphasis on research needs, and that is where we will see some benefit," said Austin, whose company works with a number of smaller space startups.

NEBRASKA: Geologist warns of threat of landslides

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A University of Nebraska-Lincoln geologist says recent heavy rains in Nebraska have created the potential for dangerous landslides in some parts of the state.

Research geologist Duane Eversoll says the most potential lies where waterlogged soil overlays hard shale or clay.

Hundreds of landslides have occurred in Nebraska. Eversoll says that while they don't have the visual drama of those in places like California, they do threaten roads, homes, utilities and possibly lives in Nebraska.

Eversoll says triggers for a landslide include a clap of thunder, a heavy truck bouncing down a roadway or an earth tremor.

NEBRASKA: Lincoln student produces documentary about refugees

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A teenager from Lincoln already has a documentary film on her resume, and she didn't have to leave her hometown to do it.

Natalia Ledford produced, directed, wrote, shot and edited a documentary about Sudanese teenagers who came to the U.S. to escape a civil war where family members were killed. "Paths of the Displaced" documents the struggles and triumphs of five Sudanese teenagers living in Lincoln.

It will air in July on Nebraska educational television.

Now a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ledford befriended the refugee teens at Lincoln High School.

The film was also produced by NET Television, Meadowlark Films and the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

INDIANA: Official says free college application week misguided

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Education officials thought more Indiana high school students would apply for college if applications fees were waived for one week each year, but some colleges say last year's initiative was misguided and caused problems.

Enrollment officials across the state said their staffs wasted hundreds of hours sorting through applications, many of them incomplete, and trying to follow up with students who had no intention of attending college, The Herald-Times of Bloomington reported.

Indiana University officials said the free week cost the school more than $300,000.

"Any time you start up a new program, you are going to have unintended consequences," said Elizabeth Crouch, spokeswoman for Learn More Indiana, an Indiana Higher Education Commission partner. "We have had many, many conversations with the schools, and we've gotten good input about how to move forward."

The Indiana Higher Education Commission launched its "College Go!" initiative late last summer to get more Indiana high school seniors applying to Indiana colleges and universities. During one week in October, students could apply to state colleges and universities for free. Many schools charge around $50 to apply.

Record numbers of students applied to Indiana colleges, Crouch said.

University officials don't dispute the numbers or object to the program's goals.

"It was well-intentioned but misguided," said Roger Thompson, who was Indiana University's vice provost for enrollment management before resigning this month to take a similar position at the University of Oregon.

Many applications were never completed, and others were from students who clearly would not be admissible to IU, Thompson said. The school will not waive application fees this year.

"Unfortunately, College Go! week quickly became synonymous with free applications," said Pamela Horne, dean of admissions at Purdue University. "We normally receive around 10,000 applications from Indiana students each year at $50 an application. If everyone just waits until College Go! week to apply – you do the math."

Filling out a college application – typically online – starts the application process and creates a virtual file for a high school student. It also launches various contact and follow-up procedures at most schools, but a full application is not complete until high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores are added.

Students at many Indiana high schools were simply instructed to fill out college admission applications as a class project. So it was difficult for universities to predict who was serious about attending college.

"It's very difficult to judge a student's interest in Indiana if they were in a high school class that said 'apply to five schools by the end of the class period,'" Thompson said.

But college admissions coordinator Terry Henry at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis said College Go! week opened doors for students.

"From where I sit, I saw students who would have never dreamed of applying to college fill out applications, and follow up," he said.

Crouch acknowledged the complaints about the program and said changes will be made. College Go! week will be earlier this year, from Sept. 20-24, and officials will not be pressuring colleges to waive application fees as hard as they did last year.

IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre said the school can't afford another free application week.

"When you have one group of students who applied early and paid the fee, and then they turn around and see another group of students get to apply for free, they say, 'Hey, that isn't fair.' And it isn't," he said. "It put us in a tough situation."

OHIO STATE: 13 cited since Columbus texting ban started in May

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – In the roughly seven weeks since a texting-while-driving ban began in Ohio's capital city, officers have ticketed 13 motorists for allegedly violating the ban.

In five of the cases in Columbus, the drivers were ticketed only for texting; one case was dismissed. In the others cases, the motorists were pulled over for another alleged offense, such as failure to control or drunken driving.

The ban prohibits typing and reading text messages or e-mail and using the Internet while driving, including while stopped at a red light or stop sign. Dialing a number is not illegal.

Those pleading guilty pay a $50 fee. If found guilty, fines can be up to $150.

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