Neil Armstrong and Purdue Engineering

Neil Armstrong came to Purdue in the fall of 1947 and entered the aeronautical engineering department filled with the hope and optimism shared by the people of a country emerging from a world war. In his words, "I just couldn't have been happier with what I was doing, going into engineering."

In the 1940s, Purdue’s campus held just 12,000 students—many of whom were returning GIs. This was a decade in American history when fewer than one in four Americans completed high school, and fewer than one in 20 went to college.

Neil was only the second person in his family to attend a university. He was accepted into MIT, but was told by a friend of Neil’s father that it wasn’t necessary to go all the way to MIT for a good engineering education. Neil chose Purdue, in large part, because of its reputation and the fact that it was only 220 miles from his home in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

Purdue Engineering, from its founding in 1869 to Armstrong’s enrollment to today, serves as the gateway through which students enter as novices and leave as engineers.

The Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering now stands to represent this physical and intellectual gateway. It is a center of transitions. It’s a place where high school students who are on their way to becoming engineering students are welcomed and advised, and it’s a place that guides and equips first-year students to thrive in the individual engineering school in which they choose to enroll.

The building contains more than the materials that make up its structure. It embodies the ideas of inspiration and hope that surrounded one of America’s great moments: our landing on the moon 38 years ago.

Armstrong Hall is our flagship building, the face of Purdue Engineering. As the home to the Department of Engineering Education, it’s the place where first-year students launch their academic careers and where faculty and students probe into fundamental questions about how preschool students through career engineers learn engineering concepts.

As home to both the School of Materials Engineering and the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, this facility showcases the full spectrum of engineering, from the nanoscale to the galactic.

As home to the nationally acclaimed Minority Engineering Program and Women in Engineering Program, it emphasizes the relationship between diversity and innovation. And as home to EPICS—Engineering Projects in Community Service—it shines a light on the connections between engineering and society.  

Designed to feature team-based, collaborative spaces, Armstrong Hall promotes hands-on learning, discovery, and teamwork. It’s also a center for strengthening connections with pre-college students, current students, alumni, corporate partners, and our community.