Purdue Engineering Impact Magazine Spring 2010

Mechanical Engineering Taking Flight - The rewards of risky research

There is great demand among students for the education we offer in Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering (ME). For the 2009-10 academic year our undergraduate enrollment (sophomore-senior) is at nearly 1,000, and we have more than 450 graduate students. The former is a record enrollment since the post World War II era, and the latter is, in fact, an all-time high.

Looking back, we see a decade-long trend in the growth of our ME student body. One reason for the demand of our program is the continued broadening of career opportunities for MEs, which is also consistent with the new directions in education and research by our faculty. The versatility of an ME degree is exemplified by the industries hiring our BSMEs in recent years. These industries include aerospace/defense, automotive, chemical/petroleum, computers/electronics, construction, consumer/food products, energy/nuclear, engineering and public policy, engineering consulting, government agency/lab, heavy/off-road equipment, management consulting, medicine/health care, and military. In addition, there are about 10 percent of our graduates that enter a field not captured in one of the aforementioned categories.

We also know through the excellent work you and your classmates have done over the years that a Purdue ME degree is respected and valued worldwide. While all of our students must achieve a high GPA their freshman year, we are increasingly emphasizing leadership, global perspective, innovation, and entrepreneurship as differentiating characteristics of our students and our program.

This may sound as if we have all the students we need, but there still remains a need to keep our pipeline filled with future scholars, particularly females and underrepresented minorities. Many alumni have asked how they can help recruit more students into the ME program and/or become more engaged with the school. We are working with one of our student organizations, the Purdue Mechanical Engineering Ambassadors (PMEA), to develop “ME in a Box.” This program will have interactive components and experiments alongside a lesson plan for teachers in K-12 schools or coordinators working with youth organizations to cultivate interest in mechanical engineering at a young age.

We have also heard from several businesses that they are planning to reduce the number of face-to-face interviews they conduct and do more of their preliminary screenings for internships, co-ops, and even jobs from student resumes and telephone interviews. This may present an opportunity for students to mail or e-mail a resume to an interested alumnus for a critique or even conduct a mock interview.

If you are interested in participating in either of these programs, please let us know. You can drop us a note or contact Cynthia Dalton at (765) 494-7320 or via e-mail cdalton@purdue.edu.

Thank you for your continued support, and if you are in the area please stop by for a visit.

E. Dan Hirleman
William E. and Florence E. Perry Head
School of Mechanical Engineering

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