From the Dean: June 2020 Engineering Community Letter

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

As I write this month’s email to the College, events across the nation are a stark reminder of the work that remains for each of us in building a nation where racism and bigotry are eliminated and where African American men and women, boys and girls, can live without fear. We are angered and saddened by the death of George Floyd, the victims who came before him, and those killed or otherwise harmed in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death. As the grandfather of two African Americans, I worry about the world they are growing up in. As a land-grant university created to enable everyone to contribute to and participate in the nation’s success, we have a special responsibility. We must persist, now more than ever, to build a better world together, and in time that I have remaining as your acting dean I will do all that I can. #PurdueTogether

As you know, our academic year wrapped up in May with our first ever virtual commencement where we awarded 1483 BS degrees – the largest in the College’s history – as well as over 400 graduate degrees. We’ve been saying that next Fall will be like no other, but we could say the same about this summer. Research labs are opening up again with the goal to be fully operational by the end of the month. Our Early Start students will come to campus in July to take their first Purdue classes, including ENGR 131 and ENGR 133. This will very much be a prototype for the Fall 2020 residential experience, and we’re indebted to our colleagues in ENE for piloting this program on short notice. A record number of CoE undergraduates will be taking courses at Purdue this summer, thanks to being able to do it remotely. Registrations for summer Engineering classes are up by over 50% from 2019. Thanks to CoE Schools for expanding their course offerings so our students can graduate faster or Do More in Four. Each unit in the College is also working hard over the summer to get ready for Fall semester. Please monitor for the latest information.

As we work hard in these trying times, it’s important not to lose track of our overarching goal – to be the leading example of excellence at scale for a college of engineering. Bob Lucky (Purdue BSEE 57, MSEE 59, PhD 61) wrote for many years a monthly column in IEEE Spectrum on technology, society, and engineering culture. In “What Makes a University Great?” he pointed out that there are a handful of universities that are different from the rest. Close behind these “greats,” are the “not quite greats,” but moving from not quite great to great is incredibly difficult. We all know who the greats are – their membership hasn’t changed in decades. It won’t be easy, but moving to the next level of excellence will help us attract the very best students, compete for top faculty, retain star faculty, and attract the resources we need for the large-scale programs that will give us more impact. We’ve set ourselves a challenging goal. I’m glad that we did that, but it’s important that we take a clear, hardheaded look at where we are, where we want to be, and think clearly about what we need to do differently to get there. I hope you are thinking about these issues. To succeed will take a decade long commitment that we must maintain through the ups and downs that come our way. The disruption we’re in the middle of now might even create opportunities.

Through all of the new challenges, the work of the university continues. Our new John Martinson Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship directed by Yung-Hsiang Lu, has established strong ties with the Silicon Valley Boiler Innovation Group (SVBIG) in Palo Alto and webinars on topics like, “Building Extraordinary Careers in Economic Uncertainty,” are happening regularly. Virtual events, such as our first ever virtual reception for Silicon Valley Alumni, are the norm now. Integrated Business and Engineering, a new joint BS program with Krannert has just been approved by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education for a Fall 2021 start. Our presence in defense and security research continues to grow with the new, ~$6M, 3-year Multidisciplinary Hypersonics Program (MHP) led by Jonathan Poggie. The MHP will support the development of the next generation of vehicles for hypersonic flight and makes use of unique experimental facilities at Purdue and at our partner Notre Dame.

Please continue to be careful for you and your families

As I mentioned in my June email on Tuesday, we at Purdue have a special responsibility as a land-grant university to enable everyone to contribute to and participate in the nation’s success. Recent events remind us of how much of this work that remains. I would like to share with you a powerful video from Purdue Engineering alum Markell Baldwin and ask that you listen to his words and make a commitment to fight injustice and prejudice.


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