Building a Better World

Purdue Civil Engineering is often the first choice for its students. For alumnus Drake Krohn, it was his only choice.

Drake at Purdue Aviation, where he obtained his private pilot’s license as an undergraduate.

A friendship formed at Purdue inspired alumnus Drake Krohn to support Special Olympics

Purdue Civil Engineering is often the first choice for its students. For alumnus Drake Krohn, it was his only choice.

A southern Indiana native, Krohn — like many aspiring engineering students — grew up with a strong interest in math, science and building things. And when it was time to choose a university, he had one — and only one — place in mind.

“Looking back on it, it definitely wasn’t the wisest decision to make and I wouldn’t recommend anyone do it, either,” Krohn said. “But Purdue was the only university I applied to. It’s where I knew I wanted to go to study engineering. It’s funny because I’ve always seen myself as a very rational person, but, for me, it just made sense to do this.”

Krohn’s determination served him well as a student in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering. With a focus on transportation engineering, he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2015 and his master’s in 2017 while researching with Darcy Bullock, the Lyles Family Professor of Civil Engineering.

Drake and Ryan at Wiley Dining Court on Purdue’s campus. The two met at Wiley when Drake was an undergraduate. Ryan has worked at Wiley since 2012.

“My experience at Purdue and my time working with Professor Bullock were some of the best years I’ve ever had,” Krohn said. “Civil engineers — and especially those in transportation — have such a huge impact on the world and its future. Ensuring safe travel and creating new ways for people to travel are absolutely vital for our future.”

Krohn now works as a project engineer in the Chicago office for Jacobs, an international engineering company. There, he is part of the airfield expansion team for the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The team is currently working to create additional terminals following the construction of new runways.

In addition to his work, Krohn’s interest in aiding and improving the community extends beyond his career. Since his time at Purdue, Krohn has actively volunteered with the Special Olympics and works closely with the Special Olympics of Illinois.

He got involved in special needs programs like the Special Olympics and Best Buddies due to a friendship he made his sophomore year at Purdue.

“By random chance, I happened to eat lunch right around the same time as Ryan, an employee of the University’s dining services who has special needs,” Krohn said. “We ended up having lunch together every day and became friends. From there, I learned more about special needs programs and I realized it was something I wanted to be a part of.”

Krohn said it just “made sense” to volunteer. Because — like his interest in civil engineering — it all stems from a desire to make the world a better place.

“It’s a wonderful program that gives people with special needs the opportunity to shine,” Krohn said. “I’ve always had an interest in being part of something bigger than just myself. I guess that’s why civil engineering always appealed to me.”

Drake with Harry and Mitchell, Special Olympics Athletes, at the 2019 O’Hare Plane Pull, a fundraiser for Special Olympics Illinois.