Senior Highlight: Carter "Eli" Mackley, Engineering Management

Eli Mackley, a 2022 senior in our Multidisciplinary Engineering Degree Program, will soon head back home to Seattle for his next giant leap as a systems engineer. In this Q&A, Eli brings an insight into the world of MDE and how it bolstered his desired pathway in nuclear systems for space applications. Learn why he chose MDE, his time with the Purdue Space Program and what's next!

Eli Mackley

Q&A with Eli

Eli MackleyWhat is your major and concentration?

  • Major: Multidisciplinary Engineering
  • Concentration: Engineering Management
  • Minor: Management
  • Minor: Innovation and Transformational Change

Where do you call home?
Seattle, WA

What led you to choose MDE/IDES?
A friend in the program encouraged me to check it out as an alternative to AAE or ME. I didn’t buy it originally… but after talking with the administration I was sold more and more. I changed course 3 times while in MDE and didn’t have to change majors or lose progress. In the end, each semester that passed as a student of MDE just served to prove what I’d been told. MDE means building the education you need. It opens doors that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

What were you involved in while at Purdue?
Purdue Space Program consumed my freshman/sophomore year. I served on the executive board as outreach coordinator and lead the recovery system sub-team on the BZ-1 liquid rocket project. It was a blast, but I practically lived out of Zucrow Labs. After a year and a half of fun, I left and joined Purdue Outing Club to spare some sanity. Through that I met most of my friends which I still have today. Some of the best memories and adventures of my 5 years here were with these clubs.

What is your favorite memory from your time at Purdue?
Hardest question to answer on this list because there are too many. The first successful hot fire of our rocket comes to mind. One of the many trips to Kentucky to rock climb. The small moments with friends? Five years is too long to pick one favorite. All I can really say is that I laughed and happy cried enough to stick around until graduation. If time was infinite, I’d do it all over again.

What are your next steps after commencement?
I made it ma! I’ll be working as a Systems Engineer back home in Seattle for USNC-Tech, a company specializing in advanced nuclear systems for space applications. This includes nuclear thermal propulsion, space capable nuclear reactors, radioisotope thermal generators, nuclear electric propulsion, and more. It’s quite literally a dream come true. Also? No more homework. Nothing to stop me from wandering up mountains and kayaking in the rain. And I think that’s about the neatest thing…

Do you have any advice for the current/future students of MDE/IDES?
Be intentional about your classes. You are spoiled for choice – take advantage of it. The core classes will teach you what you need. Your other classes will teach you what you want. And some random class you didn’t want but happened to fit will turn out to be your favorite class you ever took. That’s the magic of MDE.