Purdue's graduate online engineering students have access to the highest quality of education at the highest proven value. For professional engineers, it's an opportunity to maximize professional growth while keeping current careers on track.
These are a few of the alumni who have earned master's degrees and are applying the skills learned to make positive impacts around the world and in space.
SAVING LIVES THROUGH INNOVATION
Phillipa Ngaju Makobore
While earning her Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering degree online in 2020, Phillipa Ngaju Makobore made the most of her time at Purdue by working to solve a problem in her home country of Uganda, where 1 in 10 children seek medical attention too late and require intravenous therapy. She used her master's program to advance an innovative Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set. The low-cost device, which could be a lifesaving invention not only in Africa but also worldwide, is designed to deliver intravenous fluids and drugs by controlling the flow rate based on feedback from a sensor. It is easy to operate and includes safety features such as alarms that sound if the fluid flow is too fast or slow, the fluid volume is too high or low, or a sensor is faulty. It runs on a battery that can be charged from a plug or solar power.
While earning her master's degree, Makobore won two major international prizes: an Innovation Prize for Africa and a German-African Innovation Incentive Award.
She said she chose Purdue to expand her skills in medical device design because it offered the opportunity to combine Purdue's top-ranked engineering programs and exceptional engineering faculty with work on developing her infusion device.
LIVING THE DREAM IN INDYCAR
Growing up outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Angela Ashmore (BSME '10, MSME '13) had racing in her blood. Her dad and uncle used to race together, and the family spent their Saturday nights watching short-track contests at the local Berlin Raceway and their Sundays in front of the TV watching NASCAR.
She always wanted to pursue a career in motorsports, so while she was working at Chrysler, the company offered to pay for her to earn a graduate degree. Ashmore chose an online master's from Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering, which gave her the in-depth knowledge needed to work with such high-powered machines.
After working on Roush Fenway's NASCAR team in North Carolina, Ashmore made the decision to move back to the Midwest. A Purdue classmate worked at Indianapolis-based Chip Ganassi Racing, so when they offered her a chance to join their IndyCar team, she decided to go for it. Now Ashmore is living her dream, working as a race engineer for the team.
Ashmore said the biggest thing she learned at Purdue is how to think and problem-solve. "That's what makes a good engineer, whether it's in IndyCar, or in any other field," she said. "Having that master's degree gives me something extra ... something intangible that most people in this industry don't have. When it comes to solving complex problems, my Purdue education gives me the edge."
NASA SYSTEMS ENGINEER
Named a systems engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in January 2022, Aaron Comis previously served three years as Commercial Crew Program parachute system hardware lead for SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner.
He is currently enrolled in the School of Mechanical Engineering's Online Master of Science program, where he expects to earn his degree in December 2023. With his intense schedule at NASA, Comis appreciates the asynchronous class delivery of the online program, in which he can complete his coursework on his own schedule, leaving him time to prioritize the lifesaving work he performs at NASA.
ARCTIC EXPLORER FOCUSED ON SUSTAINABILITY
Most Purdue Online graduate engineering students complete their courses from the comfort of their homes, but 2020 graduate Jessica Flemming took a radically different approach and added a trip to the Arctic Circle focused on sustainability. Her summer classroom was aboard the National Geographic Lindblad Explorer ship and on the icy polar desert.
Fleming traveled to the Arctic through a leadership program offered by the 2041 Foundation, an organization founded by polar explorer and environmental leader Robert Swan. The organization aligns its mission with the United Nations sustainable development goals, and takes its name from the Antarctic Treaty — signed by 12 nations in 1961 and expiring in 2041 — that establishes Antarctica as a scientific preserve. The foundation works with corporations to support sustainability initiatives that reduce environmental impact and nurture leaders in corporate sustainability innovation, policy and education reform.
As a professional engineer, Flemming works for Carrier Corp. in Indianapolis in Residential Cooling Product Development and Sustainability, and previously worked in the aerospace arena. She plans to combine her Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronauts degree with her interest in the environment by crafting an independent study out of what she learned during her Arctic trip. She said the customized curriculum will benefit her professional quest to engineer differently and innovatively. Her plans also include incorporating the Arctic experience into her online graduate studies as an independent study within Environmental and Ecological Engineering.