Welcome Home - Connections essential to Engineering Alumni Association

Welcome Home
Harnessing the power of more than 80,000 Purdue engineering alumni and using that power to benefit other alumni, students, partners, faculty and staff could be a difficult problem.

It should be no surprise that Purdue engineers have already designed the answer: the Engineering Alumni Association.

The EAA was formed in 1984 and is organized under the umbrella of the Purdue Alumni Association. While the Purdue Alumni Association focuses on alumni and friends of the University from an institutional level, the Engineering Alumni Association concentrates its efforts on informing and involving College of Engineering alumni.

The goal of the EAA is to increase interaction between alumni and Purdue’s other constituencies, and those interactions come in many forms: alumni events, networking opportunities, recruiting prospective students, mentoring current students and much more.

A Focus on Recruitment

A key activity for the EAA is finding opportunities for alumni to talk about their experiences with prospective Purdue engineering students. Through those discussions, the goals are to highlight engineering as a viable career path, promote Purdue and recruit the students into the Purdue engineering program.

EAA members participate in engineering career nights, support the College of Engineering undergraduate recruiters and host events. Last winter, EAA members began hosting receptions for admitted high school seniors and their parents.

An event hosted by David Schaller (BSEE ’82), vice president of EAA, was especially successful. Nearly all in attendance accepted enrollment at Purdue.

“We know some of the parents were so impressed with the event that they were telling others in the community about it,” says Schaller, a strategic product planning manager for Navistar Inc. in Fort Wayne, Ind. “We even had parents and alumni who found links in their own careers and companies, creating networking opportunities for those in attendance. All that and Purdue beat IU’s basketball team on the TVs in the background: a great outcome any time!”

Once the students are on campus, the EAA stays in touch through receptions, activities for graduating seniors and mentoring programs. More hands-on activities for alumni include classroom speaking engagements, hosting engineering tours at companies where alumni work or something more involved like coaching the SAE Baja vehicle-building team.

“We are striving to find ways to use our alumni’s talents to get them engaged with Purdue again,” Schaller says.

Building Early Relationships

“Our main focus is twofold: building relationships between alumni and potential Purdue engineers and building relationships between engineering alumni,” says Nathan Uldricks (BSIE ’06), EAA president. “Therefore, at the core of our mission is the building of relationships. Everything we do fosters a relationship.”

In addition to courting potential Purdue engineers, the EAA is exploring ways to partner with EPICS High to help generate enthusiasm for engineering — and Purdue — at the middle and high school levels. Through this partnership, the EAA hopes to enable Purdue engineering alumni to share their experiences in school classrooms throughout the U.S.

“This is a really great opportunity for Purdue engineering,” says Uldricks, a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton in the Washington, D.C., area. “With all the dialogue about the national deficit of students entering the STEM disciplines, I haven’t seen any other university’s engineering alumni taking an active role in this. There’s a lot of potential for Purdue engineering alumni to take the lead.”

“I’ve always appreciated the education from Purdue, and now that I have two children enrolled there, I have many more reasons to want a Purdue degree to be as powerful as possible.”

– David Schaller

Finding Your Place

The EAA also helps busy alumni find the right interaction points, Schaller says.

“Most alumni are actively employed engineers who don’t have the time to sort through the campus resources looking for a great match for their talents and interests,” he says. Schaller joined the EAA board in 2009 after four years in an intense program-management role that allowed little time for community service work.

“It has been awesome to be engaged with the excitement on campus again,” he says. “You can go back to college and do it without taking tests and classes!”

Becoming a member of the EAA is quite simple for alumni who are already members of the Purdue Alumni Association. In fact, it’s automatic.

All engineering alumni must do to be a part of the EAA is join the Purdue alumni.

“Aside from the slew of benefits from joining the Purdue Alumni Association and the additional incentives if you’re an engineer, it enables you to be more connected to people who have similar interests and similar aspirations,” Uldricks says. “Tangible benefits are discounts, events, etc., but the grander benefit is to be in like company and have the opportunity to build enriching relationships.”

Involvement can range from merely joining the EAA’s social networking areas on Facebook or LinkedIn to volunteering and board membership.

“We are open to new ideas and welcome participation and suggestions from any interested engineering alumni, current students, or Purdue staff,” Schaller says. “We have only scratched the surface on what our global network of engineering alumni is capable of achieving.”

For more information, visit the EAA website at https://engineering.purdue.edu/EAA. To become a member, visit www.purduealumni.org.