Why We Chose Professional Master's in Mechanical Engineering

You're starting up the ladder in industry, and a Master's degree can be a big boost to your career. But who has the time? With the Professional Master's Program (PMP) from Purdue University Mechanical Engineering, you can get a world-class education in your engineering focus area in just 1-2 years, sharpen your professional management skills, and join a network of more than 100,000 Boilermaker engineers around the world!

Best of the Best

Purdue's Mechanical Engineering graduate program, with 1,000 students and 95 tenure-track faculty, has been ranked top 10 by US News & World Report for more than 30 straight years. Purdue offers the #1 online mechanical engineering graduate program in the country, and Purdue's overall graduate engineering program is #4 in the country, the largest program ever to be ranked in the top five.

In addition to working professionals, Purdue’s PMP is also ideal for international students. It’s a qualified STEM program, and PMP students are eligible for U.S. internships through Curricular Practical Training/Optional Practical Training.

We asked Purdue PMP students and alumni why they chose the Professional Master’s program, and how it has helped them in their respective careers.

William Sanchez

William Sanchez came from Colombia to Purdue in 2014, attaining a master’s degree in computer information technology. He then moved to the U.S. full-time, working for automotive manufacturer ZF. But after seven years, he felt it was time for a change.

“I wrestled with the choice of going the thesis route, or the Professional Master’s,” said William. “Thankfully, I had already done a thesis in my earlier degree, so I decided to use this opportunity to take a different perspective.”

William worked on his PMP degree part-time while employed full-time at ZF, taking a class or two every semester. “I already had a general background in engineering and physics,” said William, “But ZF being an automotive company, everyone there had a background in mechanical engineering. I wanted to get more deeply into specifics, so I chose to focus on systems and controls.”

He also found the business classes particularly helpful. “Accounting taught me a lot,” he said. “I also took finance classes, which built on Accounting to show how we move money and how we create value for our customers. It really helped me to look at business from a different perspective.”

Taking classes part-time, William finished his degree in 2.5 years and graduated with his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering in December 2023. “I actually took more classes than I needed!” he laughs. “But the flexibility Purdue offered me was amazing, including the opportunity to take some classes online.”

His new background in systems and finance will come in handy, as he is now joining a startup company in the United Kingdom. “My Purdue experience has been invaluable,” said William. “I loved the discussions I could have with the professors and Ph.D. students — learning from their expertise, but also being able to share my own expertise from working in industry. The graduate school was also super helpful showing me what classes I could take to finish my degree in the timeframe I had.”

Prithvi Prasad

“I was always interested in machines — cars, lawn mowers, basically anything with wheels!” said Prithvi Prasad, who pursued an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in Bangalore, India. In 2017, he participated in a virtual design competition sponsored by Purdue University — and soon learned that the Midwest United States was full of world-class engineering schools.

“When I was researching a Master’s degree, I talked to friends who had gone to Illinois or Michigan, and found that there is a lot more flexibility at Purdue, especially with the Professional Master’s program,” said Prithvi. “Purdue let me take Aeronautics and Astronautics classes, just because I was interested in it. I learned design optimization and finite element analysis. But I also took operations and management classes. I personally think engineers need to be well-rounded, and this program offered me so much versatility within just a year and a half. It’s the perfect sweet spot between technical deep dives and professional development.”

He also worked part-time in a 3D printing lab, where he found that education goes both ways. “It was great fun learning about the latest 3D printers,” he said, “But also working together with engineering undergrads to help them design their parts for additive manufacturing. What a great experience!”

Prithvi graduated in 2022, and now works as product engineer for Cummins, one of the largest engine manufacturers in the world. He is accountable for the fuel systems on medium-duty diesel engines used in box trucks, ambulances, fire engines, and more. He finds that the operations and management classes from his Professional Master’s at Purdue struck a real chord.

“As a design engineer, I take a product all the way from conception to validation to launch,” he said. “And now that I have a greater understanding of the business world, I can communicate with the various stakeholders with much more confidence.  I interact with operations folks to make sure it’s machinable. I can discuss onboarding strategies, so that we can utilize our supply chain resources effectively and sustainably. I can understand the business case for a certain product to determine whether it’s viable in the marketplace.”

Ultimately, a Purdue degree helped Prithvi excel in his position at Cummins. “Everywhere I go, I see Purdue stickers or banners,” he said. “And of course, our CEO Jennifer Rumsey is also a Boilermaker! So the Professional Master’s in Mechanical Engineering gave me a head start to succeed. I can’t imagine life in the United States without Purdue.”

Sierra Bailey

After graduating with a chemical engineering degree from Michigan State, Sierra Bailey went to work for Whirlpool Corporation.  As part of their WERLD program (Whirlpool Engineering Rotational Leadership Development), they sent Sierra to Purdue to work at the ReNEWW House, a joint research project between Purdue and Whirlpool to retrofit a 1928 home in West Lafayette to achieve net-zero energy, water, and waste.

“I was fortunate that Whirlpool sponsored me to finish a Master’s degree,” said Sierra. “It was a no-brainer to choose Purdue, because I had seen first-hand their technical rigor, their amazing faculty, and their focus on sustainability. I had never seen myself getting a Master’s degree, but I thought it was a great opportunity to be really challenged and to gain additional technical expertise.”

Early on, she was drawn to thermodynamics. “I actually ended up taking a class in Combustion,” she said. “That was super challenging, but it was actually a great bridge between chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. I also took Heat Transfer of Electronic Systems, which is very important for my work at Whirlpool. I could always go the professor’s office hours if I ever needed help, and I could always message the staff at Purdue to help me pick the right courses to finish my degree.”

Sierra also loved the opportunity to integrate professional development classes into her Professional Master’s. “I love understanding how businesses operate, and how those decisions are made,” she said. “That’s why I took Strategic Management, and Development of Global Business Strategies. That kind of background is something engineers don’t usually get.”

What’s more amazing? Sierra finished the degree in just 12 months. “I survived 30 credits in one year!” she laughs. “I was so fortunate that Purdue and Whirlpool worked together to help me finish my degree so quickly. I actually lived and worked at the ReNEWW House, which they accepted as an independent study project.”

Sierra is now an engineering analyst at Whirlpool, focused on freestanding ranges. “The things I learned in my Purdue classes, I was immediately able to apply them in my job,” she said. “I work in ovens, so I use thermodynamics every day!”

The Professional Master’s program also changed her way of thinking. “It’s helped me to understand all the business moves that happen in today’s climate, why people are hiring or not hiring, how the product development cycle works,” she said. “But it’s also a technical degree, which allows you to dive deep into engineering concepts. You get your hands into different buckets to learn in-depth about different things, and find your true passion. It's really made me a better engineer and a better professional because of it.”

Vishal Ganti

Vishal Ganti loved robotics and mechatronics, building rovers and other robotics projects at his undergrad university in India. But he wanted something more.

“As engineers, we do a very good job designing and building things,” said Vishal. “But I never really touched on what happens after that. That’s why I pursued a Professional Master’s at Purdue.”

Vishal took a balance of technical and management classes. He started with Industrial Robots and Flexible Assembly, where he simulated an entire factory environment of industrial robots, just using software. But he also took classes in marketing management, where he learned how digital marketing tools and pricing strategies target consumers. He even competed in a mock management competition, where his team won the top prize.

He appreciates the flexibility offered within the Professional Master’s program. “A typical Master’s takes two years,” he said, “but I wanted to complete it earlier to give myself a head start on job hunting. The staff here at Purdue was so helpful, and they helped me finish in a year and a half. I even had time to fit in an internship at Eli Lilly and Company.”

Vishal’s hard work paid off. After graduating in December 2023, he joined Lilly full time as a senior engineer. “Everything that I learned in my Professional Master’s at Purdue, I could see it working in real time at Lilly,” Vishal said. “Operations management, supply chain, inventory — that’s stuff I never would have learned about in a typical engineering degree. But now I can filter through all of it, thanks to PMP.”

One final benefit to his degree? Being a Boilermaker! “I went to so many basketball and football games while I was here,” said Vishal. “The passion that students have for Purdue is something I’d never seen before. Not only are they a top-notch engineering school, but they also offer so much to their students, and they have so many connections to industry — which is how I got my job at Lilly. For me as an international student, it was amazing to have all these opportunities.”


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