Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, is the flagship university of the six-campus Purdue University system. Purdue was founded on May 6, 1869, as a land-grant university when the Indiana General Assembly, taking advantage of the Morrill Act, accepted a donation of land and money from Lafayette businessman John Purdue to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture in his name. The first classes were held on September 16, 1874, with six instructors and 39 students. Today, Purdue is a member of the Big Ten Conference, and is a well known world-class research institution. Purdue enrolls the second largest student body of any university in Indiana as well as the fourth largest international student population of any university in the United States.
Purdue offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in over 211 major areas of study, and is well known for its competitive engineering curricula. The university has also been highly influential in America's history of aviation, having established the first college credit offered in flight training, the first four-year bachelor's degree in aviation, and the first university airport (Purdue University Airport). Purdue's aviation technology program remains one of the most competitive aviation-specific programs in the world. In the mid-20th century, Purdue's aviation program expanded to encompass advanced spaceflight technology giving rise to Purdue's nickname, Cradle of Astronauts. Twenty-three Purdue graduates have gone on to become astronauts, including Gus Grissom (one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts), Neil Armstrong (the first person to walk on the moon), and Eugene Cernan (the most recent person to walk on the moon).
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