ME Building Renovation: Key Points

  • As our student population grows and changes, we need to make big changes to the 100-year-old Mechanical Engineering Building to fully serve our students
  • We plan to create the most comprehensive experiential learning environment in the world
  • Physical spaces will re-focus on hands-on experiences, with expanded workshops, instructional labs, maker spaces, and collaborative classrooms
  • You can become a partner to help bring this vision to life!

The Challenge

As the flagship school of Purdue, we educate more than 1,500 undergraduate students and 750 graduate students every year (only Georgia Tech enrolls more mechanical engineering students than Purdue). We are a leading voice in many scientific fields, and host research facilities found nowhere else in academia.

But despite our stalwart reputation, we face serious issues. Our enrollment has grown so fast, that our physical infrastructure has struggled to keep up. We have hired more than 25 new faculty in the last five years, and many of them are still waiting to move into proper lab spaces. Classrooms, labs, offices, and meeting spaces are filled to bursting. The current Mechanical Engineering building, originally built for a handful of students to study steam engines, just cannot accommodate the needs of a world-class 21st century academic program.

The Mechanical Engineering Building is actually a hodgepodge of five different buildings, built in different time periods from 1929 to 2012. The result is a building which is more bewildering than welcoming. Some of the floors of the mismatched buildings don’t even connect! And there are more issues:

  • The old building lacks modern elevators.
  • The original 1930’s architects likely didn’t imagine the number of women today who choose to pursue degrees in mechanical engineering. As such, the restroom facilities are not at all adequate for today’s student population.
  • Machine shops, instructional labs, and maker spaces are far too small.
  • Collaborative spaces for students and faculty are few and far between.

To achieve our goal of 100% student participation in hands-on, multidisciplinary team projects, we must pursue drastic changes in our physical infrastructure. 

The Solution

Experiential Learning

The re-imagined Mechanical Engineering Building will focus more than ever on experiential learning: taking the theory you’ve discussed in a classroom, and putting it into practice in a tangible way. To do this, we need instructional labs and maker spaces that will allow students to go beyond the typical conformity and drudgery of a sit-and-listen engineering classroom, and instead inspire them to become hands-on problem solvers.

Every engineering school teaches fluid mechanics; Purdue students should look forward to putting that knowledge to work in an underwater robot. Every engineering school teaches thermodynamics; Purdue students should look forward to testing those concepts on a race car, or a home heating system. Every engineering school teaches design; Purdue students should look forward to seeing their designs 3D-printed and brought to life.

Hands-on experiences become the norm, augmented by classroom instruction in the fundamentals (rather than vice versa). It’s the sea change that 21st century engineering education needs – and with a re-imagined building focused on experiential learning, Purdue Mechanical Engineering will serve as its flagship.

Active Collaboration

The most important thing we’ve learned about teaching engineering in the 21st century is the importance of collaboration. That’s not possible with rows of desks all facing a blackboard. Our students need the soft skills of teamwork, leadership, collaboration, and diversity of thought.

The re-imagined Mechanical Engineering Building is an expression of those goals. Active-learning classrooms have collaboration baked in from the start, and team projects an integral part of the entire Purdue ME curriculum.

This in-classroom collaboration naturally extends outside the classroom, offering more opportunities for students to participate in G.R.I.T. (Global experiences, Research projects, Industry participation, and Team activities). Whether it’s building a model rocket, or using engineering in community service, the message is the same: we’re all in this together.

The Future Is In Your Hands

We owe it to the next generation of Boilermakers: the next astronauts, entrepreneurs, and problem-solving engineers. They deserve a one-of-a-kind environment where they can pursue every field imaginable. The ME Building will be completely focused on offering mechanical engineering undergraduate students the most comprehensive experiential learning environment in the world.

Will you help us make this happen? A $27 million expansion and renovation of the ME Building isn’t just an investment in bricks and mortar. It’s a “giant leap” for the School of Mechanical Engineering into the 21st century.

How Can I Help?

1. Download a PDF of the floorplans, which contain more details about the planned renovation.

2. Give online today: quick, easy, and secure!

3. Become a partner: In celebration of our founding in 1882, we are looking for 82 partners to contribute major gifts for this transformation. There are naming opportunities for classrooms, offices, instructional labs, research labs, collaborative spaces, workshops, maker spaces, and much more! Contact us today at and learn how you can get involved!

Contact us about the renovation!


Scott Banfield
Chief Development Officer
(765) 494-5629

Star Murray
Director of Development
(765) 494-0586

Christina Starace
Senior Director of Development
(317) 946-2414