From the Dean: March 2019

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

As spring break is behind us this semester, I hope to bring your attention to two updates from the College:

Purdue Engineering Initiatives

To attain the Pinnacle of Excellence at Scale, Purdue Engineering will further strengthen selected areas that are critical for an engineering college in the next decades, using a nimble and collaborative structure to achieve “1+1=3.” Purdue Engineering Initiatives (PEI) is a set of experiments that grew out of the Engineering Faculty Conversations. Each PEI is a virtual organizational structure to incubate programs in research, learning, and engagement.

Deliverables of a PEI include:

  • Launch research centers and win large-scale research funding
  • Create undergraduate minors/certificates, master’s degrees, and online badges
  • Intensify collaboration with industry and foundations
  • Deliver an intellectual property portfolio and accelerate commercialization
  • Participate in planning of faculty full-time employees (FTE) and space allocation
  • Generate thought-leadership visibility nationally and globally

Based on Engineering Faculty Conversations that started in early 2018, one PEI was informally created in 2018 and three in 2019. Additional PEIs also may be launched in the future. The four PEIs as of spring 2019 are the following:

  • Initiative in Data and Engineering Applications
  • Initiative in Engineering-Medicine (together with IU School of Medicine)
  • Initiative in Autonomous and Connected Systems
  • Initiative in Innovation and Making

The principles of PEIs are three “I”s:

  • Incubating: PEIs are incubators, not permanent structures. Each PEI has a three-year duration and can be renewed for at most three more years before it dissolves. (The specific output of a PEI, e.g., research centers or master's degrees, could be evergreen). A Faculty Council runs each Initiative, and it is meant to accelerate execution and not to exclude participation from all interested faculty. Council members may rotate each year, and Faculty Council co-chairs serve a three-year term.
  • Incisive: Within the broad area covered by a PEI, we will identify and grow unique sub-areas where Purdue Engineering has differentiating strength. The goal is not to be present in all sub-areas but to attain the Pinnacle of Excellence in selected few sub-areas.
  • Inter-functional (and inter-disciplinary): More than just research centers, PEIs connect research, learning and engagement in mutually reinforcing ways. (PEIs also cut across departmental and disciplinary boundaries.)

The draft version of the PEI websites can be found here:
Chair: Melba Crawford
Associate Dean for Research, Professor and Chair of Excellence in Earth Observation (CE/ABE, Ag)
Co-Chair: George Wodicka
Dane A. Miller Head and Professor (BME), Professor (ECE)

Co-Chair: Sherry Harbin
Professor (BME)
Co-Chair: Darcy Bullock
Lyles Family Professor and Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program (CE, ECE)

Co-Chair: David Cappelleri
Associate Professor (ME)
Co-Chair: Karthik Ramani
Donald W. Feddersen Professor (ME)

Co-Chair: Joe Sinfield
Associate Professor (CE), Director of the Innovation and Leadership Studies Program

Faculty interested in any of these Initiatives or serving on the Faculty Councils: Please reach out to the co-chairs listed on the website above. And we appreciate input from any faculty, student and staff member on what we have already been doing and what we should do in these Initiatives.

Purdue Engineering Review

Part of a land-grant public university’s mission is to inform the public and engage in conversations. Many of our faculty are interested in writing thoughtful blogs, and some are increasingly being featured in the media. To further bolster our presence in thought leadership, we launched the Purdue Engineering Review blog site on an influential aggregator: Please contact Christine Babick ( if you are interested in contributing to the site!

We are also excited that the College is again ranked among the top eight in the country in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of graduate engineering programs, and we congratulate ABE, which retains its No. 1 status, and AAE as it regains top 5 positioning in this particular ranking.


Mung Chiang
John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering
Purdue University

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