Prof. Milind Kulkarni takes over as interim head of Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
The interim head of Purdue’s Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering has officially started his new role today. In addition to serving as department head, Milind Kulkarni will also be the academic lead for Purdue Engineering Online. He takes over for Dimitrios Peroulis, who is the new senior vice president for Purdue University Online.
“I've been very lucky to have Dimitri as a mentor and somebody that I have worked with over the last many years. They’re big shoes to fill,” says Kulkarni. “He’s put ECE on a really great path and so, honestly, I think my job like any interim leader is to make sure that we stay on that trajectory. It’s a little bit like the Hippocratic Oath, ‘First, do no harm.’”
Peroulis says he has every confidence in Kulkarni to lead the department.
“He’s someone who knows the school really well,” says Peroulis. “He has the right mentality and approach to leading a big school. He understands the complexity of the system at the Purdue and College of Engineering levels and I think he will do a great job aligning what we’re doing at the School level with those overall missions.”
As head of the largest school in the College of Engineering the largest ECE department in the nation, Kulkarni will lead 120 faculty members and roughly 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students. He joined the ECE faculty 14 years ago and says he considers the department his home.
“I love all the people that I work with and all the things I get to do here,” says Kulkarni. “The opportunity to keep growing the department in the direction it’s been going and keep doing the great things we’ve been doing and keep a steady hand on the ship until we find our next leader to take us to the next level was really attractive.”
He says along with the rest of Purdue Engineering, ECE has grown tremendously over the last five years. Kulkarni says the growth has come at all levels, with more undergraduate and graduate students than ever and more faculty, as well.
“We’ve also established and really grown our online programs – our online master’s degree is the number 1 program in the country,” says Kulkarni. “We want to keep that going strong and continue growing the program and giving the opportunity of getting a Purdue ECE education to more students.”
Kulkarni says the opportunity to keep making Purdue ECE an exciting place for undergraduates is exciting. He says the tremendous growth in undergraduate enrollment can be attributed, in part to growth in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, software engineering, and semiconductors.
“These are areas of growth for not only Purdue but the country for the next five or 10 years,” says Kulkarni. “So it’s really exciting to keep moving in that direction and take it to the next level by providing more opportunities to students like more educational programs, more internship programs, and more opportunities for students to connect with companies and alumni.”
Kulkarni points to two initiatives happening at the Purdue level that will provide significant opportunities to ECE’s faculty and students -- the Purdue Computes initiative and the new Purdue campus in Indianapolis.
“Purdue COMPUTES is a big investment into computing, both in terms of infrastructure and research capabilities and in terms of human investment,” says Kulkarni. “That's my own area, I work in computer engineering, so the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of this effort and think about what this means for ECE is really exciting.”
He says he sees a lot of opportunities for ECE in Indianapolis.
“My undergraduate institution is North Carolina State. Because of NC State’s position in the research climate of North Carolina, there were a lot of opportunities for working professionals to come take classes at NC State and get their degrees,” says Kulkarni. “Purdue offers that choice to people in the form of online programs, but that doesn’t work for everybody. So the opportunity to be in a big city and offer those opportunities from ECE to folks that live there is really exciting.”
When he’s not working, Kulkarni likes to spend time with his wife, Monique, and their 7-year-old-daughter and 5-year-old son.
“One of the things I really liked about being here is that I feel like I have a very good work-life balance,” he says. “I’m able to be in this dynamic, exciting department and do all sorts of cool things, but I'm still able to go home and go to my daughters dance recital or go to my sons T-ball game.”
Kulkarni says he also likes to travel, read, play the piano and mandolin, and go to the movies.
He expects to serve as interim head of ECE for six months to a year, while an extensive search for a permanent head takes place.