From the Dean: March 2021

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

We have been through so much over the past 12 months. Thank you for your perseverance, care, and creativity each step of the way as we arrive at mid-March, 2021.

What we are developing now is more than a return to the past, but a re-imagination of the future. While it is always true that contingencies of many kinds may require us to pivot on any given day, efforts toward a post-pandemic environment for learning and discovery in the college are well under way.

We are revisiting the “when and where” of learning. Our initiatives in online learning pedagogy and technology two years ago turned out to be timely, from virtual labs and educational digital twin to OpenBytes textbooks and affordable online master’s programs. Co-Op and global programs in G.R.I.T.+ pivoted. And now we are launching Learning While Working (LWW): a new mode of Co-Op that offers students 12-month continuous working opportunities in high tech companies while getting the time to take online courses for on-time graduation.

We are further enhancing the support for research with impact on society. Despite the pandemic, the five Purdue Engineering Initiatives (PEI) and many other faculty teams have accelerated the pace of fundamental breakthroughs and preeminent scholarship. Some of the externally funded programs recently launched cover fields such as cislunar, hypersonics, semiconductors, energetics, manufacturing, 5G, autonomy, electrification, digital agriculture, quantum information, applied AI, energy, and medical devices. Purdue Engineering’s unique strength at the interface between the virtual and the physical sides of engineering has advanced rapidly, as have entrepreneurial activities such as those in John Martinson Engineering Entrepreneurship Center.

Another dimension highlighted in the strategic plan from three years ago, Pinnacle of Excellence at Scale, was to create an environment where talents from diverse backgrounds are welcomed. If travel can resume to some degree, along with visa processing, in the coming months, we look forward to welcoming many new international students to West Lafayette. Across our undergraduate, master’s, and PhD programs, we will continue to be a welcoming and inclusive place for thousands of students, as well as staff and faculty, from outside of the U.S. and around the world.


P.S. In several of our recent conversations with student groups, we heard the suggestion to deploy communication channels that many students use most frequently today. Starting this week, the undergraduate office will add Instagram as another primary channel to draw students’ attention to its announcements, from academic-related ones to events such as the ongoing Amelia Earhart Summit this month. Please feel free to follow on IG @purdueengineers.

Mung Chiang
John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering
Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Purdue University