From the Dean: May 2022

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

As final exams conclude, we estimate that 1,546 B.S., 540 M.S. (including 78 online M.S.), and 132 PhD degrees will be conferred next week from the College, marking the first time Purdue Engineering graduates 2,200+ students in one commencement. Together with hundreds more anticipated in summer and winter commencements, more than 3,000 engineers will graduate from Purdue in 2022. The “scale” in the Pinnacle of Excellence at Scale is palpable. Congratulations to all of them, with a heartfelt thank you to the instructors, teaching assistants, and staff who contributed to their learning. Some of the best graduate TAs were recognized at the recently held Graduate Student Awards luncheon, and I hope to thank many staff colleagues at the upcoming staff town hall.

To further express our appreciation of staff colleagues, the College is substantially increasing the number of BRAVO awards this year, launching the Professional Renewal in Maximizing Excellence (PRIME) Grants, and resuming the staff initiated projects and career development support in mentoring, networking and communications (that were interrupted during the pandemic semesters).

For students continuing their study at Purdue, some will stay on campus for research, courses, or summer undergraduate research programs while others will pursue internships or embark on global exchanges. In particular, SURF and related programs have seen a surge over the past few years, reaching well over 1,000 applicants for a growing but still limited number of SURF fellowships available. We are also regaining momentum in global exchanges as travel to many countries has become viable again.

Last Friday, the College hosted the inaugural Purdue Engineering Design Expo.The idea came from conversations with student groups, school leadership, alumni, and walk-in conversations during my “office hours.” More than 70 impressive team projects were suggested from the schools and showcased in the Armory with 500+ participants. Here are the student awardees. Many participants also enjoyed the insightful and uplifting keynote by Joe Watkins, an ECE/VIP/Co-Op alumnus who co-founded Socio (now Cisco Webex Events), the most successful all-student startup from Purdue in recent memory.

Last month, the College received the largest single industry research and testing funding on record, at $75M over the next decade, from Rolls Royce. This in turn enabled the Board of Trustees’ approval of ZL9, a new facility for high speed propulsion at Zucrow Labs. Over the past 12 months, we have progressed to build out the "aerospace/hypersonic campus” with university-owned research facilities (one for federally-funded wind tunnels and hypersonic manufacturing, and another for federal and industry-funded propulsion/combustion research), industry-owned facilities (Saab aerospace manufacturing site now open and Rolls Royce site under construction), and the potential of a consortium-owned Hypersonic Ground Testing Center.

Some of our faculty and students will join the opening of another part of Discovery Park District: the connected community near Convergence and the Provenance residential neighborhood. On May 25, a panel of Indiana mayors on “Smart Cities in the Heartland” and a panel of tech leaders on “Lab to Life” will follow a showcase of autonomy technologies developed by Purdue engineers. The next three days leading up to the Indy 500 will be the first Global Economic Summit organized by the State of Indiana, featuring the "Hard Tech Corridor" that starts to take shape this spring from 16Tech in Indianapolis, through Lebanon, to DP District in West Lafayette. In each of the key “hard tech” pillars: semiconductors/microelectronics, bio/pharma manufacturing, and aerospace/transportation, Purdue continues to contribute in significant and essential ways to the future of our state.

That future will be shaped by Boilermakers, including the incoming class of undergraduate and graduate students who have broken many admissions records. In particular, the undergraduate Class of 2026 came from an outstanding pool of more than 20,800 applicants, by far the largest ever, with an acceptance rate that is clearly the most selective on record and, assuming a typical ratio of enrollment vs. deposits, a record-high “yield rate” too. Furthermore, women engineering students will be above 30% and minority above 10% of an incoming class for the first time in our College’s history.


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