From the Dean: February 2020

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

As the semester races along, there are a couple of things I’d like to call to your attention along with some February events that you should put on your calendars:


February 7, 3:00 PM Armstrong Hall Atrium:
120 Small Steps to Engineering Excellence, the 120th Anniversary of the College of Engineering, will kick off with a Past Deans’ Panel Discussion and Photo Wall Unveil in Armstrong Hall. Please join me and Mung Chiang and past deans Dick Schwartz, Linda Katehi, and Leah Jamieson.

February 18, 1:00 PM Armstrong Hall Atrium:
Provost Jay Akridge will spend some time with us in Engineering. His visit begins with an open forum from 1:00 to 1:30 PM (note the change of location to accommodate a larger audience).

Calendar of February events


Now for some things that I’d like to bring to your attention…

As we celebrate our 120th Anniversary, we’ll be looking back on the small steps that brought us to where we are today, but mostly we’ll be thinking about the giant leaps that will make Purdue Engineering the example of excellence at scale. One way we’ll do this is by highlighting the Purdue Engineering Initiatives. The initiative in Engineering-Medicine got a quick start by hosting an Indiana CTSI Retreat on January 31 with the theme: “Engineering Giant Leaps in Medicine.” You’ll be hearing more about our PEI’s throughout the year, and there’ll be monthly podcasts too. The first was by Mung Chiang and me.

One of the most important things we do is to recruit talented faculty and students. This year we’ve accelerated the faculty search process -- offers are already being made. Thanks to all the faculty and staff who have been working hard on this important task. We’re also in the midst of the graduate admissions cycle. Top faculty and graduate students are absolutely critical to our success as a top tier research university. Universities compete fiercely for top grad students and faculty. Personal interactions with prospective faculty who have received offers and with graduate students who have been admitted are key factors in attracting these talented people to Purdue. Let’s all actively participate in bringing the very best people to Purdue.

As I settle into my new role, I am learning more and more about the great things that are happening in First-Year Engineering (FYE). The College of Engineering was first in the nation to offer a common first-year curriculum. Thanks to the faculty and staff in the now-named School of Engineering Education for their continued leadership through research-driven innovation in FYE today.  The FYE curriculum continuously evolves. For example, last fall, Sean Brophy (ENE) created a new course that combines the two-semester program into one. Sean’s students did amazing things with an IoT toolkit and Python programming. FYE benefits from partnerships and collaborations across the College.  Eric Nauman (ME/BME), Director of the Honors Program, co-teaches the 161-162 sequence for Honors students with Sean Brophy (ENE) and Tim Whalen (CoEHP). The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program led by Carla Zoltowski (ECE) is partnering with the FYE program to pilot a VIP learning community while completing FYE requirements. VIP is following a similar model used by EPICS to engage undergraduates in research. Larry Nies (CE/EEE) is a curator for ENGR 131, and he and Inez Hua (CE/EEE) both teach that course regularly. There is a lot happening in the FYE curriculum.

A good way to learn more is to get involved like Professor Brian Boudouris (CHE) did. Brian tells me: "Co-instructing a section of ENGR 131 with Professor Allison Godwin (ENE) was a terrific experience for me.  When I returned to leading the introductory "mass and energy balances" course in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, my ability to instruct the students was improved significantly by: (a) implementing new pedagogical techniques and instructional software that were introduced to me by the ENGR 131 team and (b) by better understanding the previous experiences and skillsets of the students prior to their transitions to chemical engineering."

Other ways to get involved include partnering with ENE faculty on developing contexts for FYE curricular content, exchanging sophomore course information with ENE faculty to improve connections and transitions between courses in the first and second years, and offering 100-level courses that engage student interest in particular topics. Contact ENE Head Donna Riley for more information on any of these opportunities. 

It’s a real privilege to serve as your acting dean in these exciting times – thanks to all of you for making Purdue the best example of excellence at scale.


Mark S. Lundstrom
Acting Dean of the College of Engineering
Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor
of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Purdue University