Theatre Engineering

Theatre engineering is the application of engineering principles and functional systems in the design and development of safe, creative, and functional sets, apparatus, and entertainment production devices.  It combines disciplines of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, and spans the boundary between the humanities (art), computer science and the field of entertainment arts.

Engineers from this concentration may work in industries such as: performing arts, theatre, film/video production, and amusement parks.

Their work may include: developing artistic and innovative set designs or devices for live entertainment, to building the next generation amusement park ride environment. Film set creation and animation is also a familiar pathway for these creative engineers looking to network their way toward a career that combines their passion for creating entertainment experiences and engineering problem solving.

Theatre Concentration Frequently Asked Questions

  • Students interested in the Theatre concentration must follow the Transition to Major (T2M) process to enter the Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) program.  Consult with your First-Year Engineering (FYE) advisor to learn more about this process and its timing.
  • The Theatre Engineering concentration acceptance is based on a competitive portfolio review process conducted by the Theatre Department. Acceptance into MDE does not guarantee a student will be accepted into the Theatre Engineering concentration.
  • The portfolio review process occurs each spring term in late April.  Inform your FYE advisor in STAR, or early in the fall semester, to obtain all details associated with portfolio review preparation/content/delivery.
  • FYE students interested in the Theatre Engineering concentration must also schedule an appointment during the fall semester with the MDE advisor, to learn more about concentration guidelines, options, and the need to meet with representatives from the Theatre Department.
  • The maximum capacity of the Theatre Engineering concentration is determined by the ability to provide a live production “capstone” equivalent experience for students in their senior year, in collaboration with the Theatre Department.  At this time, capacity is capped at 4 students per T2M spring cycle.
  • Should a student not pass the competitive portfolio review for Theatre Engineering, they must select another MDE concentration (i.e. General Engineering), or are eligible to CODO out of MDE into another engineering or non-engineering program.
  • Students may CODO into MDE, however the Theatre Engineering concentration is not open to CODO or transfer students.

Plans of Study

Theatre Engineering (PDF)

In the News

Bringing a STEM approach to live entertainment | Purdue University | November 18, 2021

Rich Dionne

When Rich Dionne, associate professor of practice in theatre, saw the incredible need for theatre engineering education, he joined Mary Pilotte, associate professor of engineering practice, to create Fusion Studio for Entertainment and Engineering, a hub dedicated to sharing ideas and building connections in the live entertainment engineering industry.

As the only school in the country offering a theatre engineering degree, Purdue is uniquely positioned to fill the need for education surrounding the rapidly advancing technology in TV, film, theme parks, live events and theatre.

Education Counts Michiana - Fusion Studio for Entertainment and Engineering | PBS Michiana| November 12, 2021

If you've ever been to a live performance, you probably only paid attention to what was going on on-stage. But there's a lot more going on backstage to create the full experience. Purdue University's Fusion Studio for Entertainment and Engineering was created to give interested students a place to learn about all the different techniques that go into the creation of live entertainment.

This is a great behind-the-scenes interview that reveals how it started, where we are now, and where it's going. 

Purdue fuses students’ passion for engineering and entertainment careers with new center | November 9, 2020

Program Video Highlights

Meet Jessica Goldberg

Meet Zachary Kovalenko

Learn More from Assistant Professor Rich Dionne


Boiler Bytes; Meet MDE's Amanda Grimm and Elena Helvajian

Last Updated: November 22, 2021