Industrial Engineering Summer 2020 Projects Program

Author: Elizabeth Pearson
Group of people having a video conference
The Purdue University School of Industrial Engineering found ways to help students of all levels continue to grow professionally during an unique summer.


At the end of most Spring semesters, students look forward eagerly to their summer plans: travel, a break from classes, and most of all, internships. Internships are considered an invaluable component of the educational process for our students, not only because they provide them with a chance to apply the knowledge they are learning in the classroom in real industry settings, but also to develop their professional skills such as networking and interpersonal communication. Internships are also frequently a door to full-time offers after graduation. Few collegiate activities can adequately simulate an internship experience for students. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the United States, many students had their internship offers rescinded or significantly altered. 

In an Undergraduate Town Hall at the end of April, Dr. Abhi Deshmukh and the IE staff discovered that many of our students were experiencing this loss of opportunity and sought a way to help. In response, the school organized and launched the Industrial Engineering Summer Projects Program. Through this program, eighty IE undergraduate and master’s students across twenty-eight teams earned course credit through faculty- and industry-inspired projects over a ten-week period. Project topics included creating solutions for how to deliver all essential items to homes during a strict stay-home order, automation of commodity futures market data acquisition and derived valuations, problem characterization for long term care/transitions of care, line balance for a manufacturing line, and more. Each project had an IE faculty or PhD student mentor to offer guidance and support to the teams as needed. At the end of the ten-week period, each team submitted a project poster and report detailing their problem, method, outcomes, and reflections.

Of the eighty students who participated in the program, 70% had their summer plans impacted by COVID-19. For some of these students, this fell during a significant time to prepare them for finding full-time jobs after graduation. Fortunately, the IE Summer Project Program was able to offer students a resume-building opportunity to mitigate some of that loss. “This is a truly remarkable opportunity for us students to continue our development as industrial engineers, especially during this time,” commented Jace Newell, a junior in IE, when the program was announced. “I look forward to receiving my project assignment, and I’m ecstatic for this summer.” Participants noted getting to work with a real company, using IE techniques in industry, improving their soft skills, and learning new skills as some of the most enjoyable aspects of their experience. When asked if they would recommend the program to their peers, over 83% said that they would, with 76% expressing their desire to participate in the program again if given the opportunity. 

In addition, our student chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, or IISE, collected stories of how various young alumni and students were making a difference over the summer. Their collected stories were archived by the school and are quite inspirational.

Think our students can help you? There are many opportunities for you to help enrich the student experience through projects.

Select Project Videos

A Student-Focused Message

Risk Analytics for Predicting Student Success

Impact Evaluations of Hackathons

Capturing and Improving Performance of Law Enforcement

Modineer Supply Chain Optimization

John Deere Paton Line Balancing

Consumers Energy The New Normal Talent Attraction

Design Framework for Delivery of Essentials Under Lockdown

Cost-based Long-term Autonomous Vehicle Adoption Analysis


Writer: Elizabeth Pearson