Professional Engineer Fits a Master's Degree into His Busy Work Schedule with Online Interdisciplinary Engineering Program

Ernie Carr, Interdisciplinary Master's in Engineering, 2022

Ernie Carr, a senior integration and test engineer at Lockheed Martin, knew that going back to school for a master’s degree in engineering would help him build new skills that could bolster his career opportunities. However, Carr’s busy work schedule necessitated finding a program with flexible course options and a distance learning component so that he could continue working full time. When Carr found Purdue’s online Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Engineering program, he thought it was the perfect fit -- a prestigious engineering program with the flexibility he needed as a working professional. 

“Purdue’s program was a great option for me,” Carr said. “It allowed me to watch classes on my own time that fit my schedule. If it wasn’t for these accommodations, I wouldn’t have been able to go back to school to earn my master’s degree.” 

For Carr, the quality and rigor of Purdue’s online Interdisciplinary Engineering program enabled him to continually work towards his goals and grow his engineering skill set. As an online student, he earned the same degree as his on-campus peers, and he received extensive support from the program’s faculty, who work closely with online students to ensure they have a positive learning experience. 

“Throughout my experience, the professors consistently exceeded my expectations to accommodate virtual students,” Carr said. “While I was unable to attend the courses in person, the professors would understand the online presence of their students and would offer help such as later and recorded office hours. This is just one example of how being an online student at Purdue didn’t make me feel so distant.”

Carr, who earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Florida in 2015, graduated from his master’s program on May 16th. He earned a Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering with a concentration in systems engineering. In total, the College of Engineering produced 83 online graduates in 2022. Carr was one of four interdisciplinary engineering graduates.

A Long History of Distance Learning Expertise 

Purdue’s College of Engineering has been offering distance education opportunities for more than 60 years. Now, the College of Engineering’s online catalog is robust and extensive. Dimitrios Peroulis, Purdue’s Michael and Katherine Birck Head of the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and special advisor to the dean of engineering on online learning, said the success of Purdue’s online engineering programs can be attributed to the college’s exceptional faculty, the quality of its curriculum, its flexibility and affordability, and its support coaches and staff. 

“All of our online MS programs enable students to take the same courses from the same instructors and earn the same quality degrees as their on-campus peers,” Peroulis said. “We are confident that the advanced skills and abilities they developed through their graduate studies at Purdue will empower them to pursue many key opportunities in the future.”

Purdue’s online master’s in Interdisciplinary Engineering is the most customizable degree the College of Engineering offers. Students in the program can choose from seven concentrations designed to help them focus their degrees to fit their career goals. The College of Engineering has also recently released several new online program offerings, such as the engineering education, nuclear engineering, and semiconductors and microelectronics master’s programs. Additionally, the College offers several graduation certificates in topic areas such as quantum technology, applied heat transfer, and digital signal processing. 

In addition to working to expand the College of Engineering’s online course and program options, faculty and staff have also worked to make the quality of the virtual options identical to their on-campus equivalents. Many of the online programs have won national awards. U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Purdue’s online engineering programs among the best in the nation. For both 2021 and 2022, Purdue has remained in the No. 1 spot in three specific categories: electrical engineering, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering. Collectively, online master’s programs in the College of Engineering rank third among 112 colleges and universities.

To learn more about Purdue’s online Interdisciplinary Engineering program and the College of Engineering’s other online options, visit the College’s website


Writer: Rachel Barton, Technical Content Writer, Purdue Online,