A Push for No. 1 in Engineering

I'm pretty sure that somewhere on my Indiana University diploma it says that I'm not allowed to cheer for Purdue, but I'll make an exception here. Purdue is trying to figure out how to get to the top of the list for engineering schools. To do that, the state school plans to hire more than 100 new engineering professors and boost engineering enrollment by 10%, according to a recent article from the Greenfield Daily Reporter.

University administrators were concerned that Indiana students were finding it harder to get into engineering, Tim Sands, university president, told the local newspaper. The school’s enrollment had risen 17% from 2006 to 2011, and the College of Engineering was faced with either reducing the number of students admitted or adding new faculty in order to maintain standards.

Purdue’s College of Engineering currently stands at 10th on U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking of undergraduate engineering programs in this country, in a three-way tie with the University of Texas-Austin and Princeton University. I’ll root for Purdue to overtake the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the No. 1 spot because, as an Indiana resident, if one of my kids decides to become an engineer (or veterinarian), it’s Purdue that I’d like them to attend (sorry, Purdue, but just about any other subject, it’s IU all the way).

But I’ll also root for Purdue because I’ll root for any engineering program that’s trying to attract more students to the field, and also ensure that those students are getting a good education. “Announcing to hire 100 new faculty at any institution will make a lot of people take notice,” said Robert Green, president-elect of the National Society of Professional Engineers, for an article in the Lafayette Journal & Courier. He added that the trend has been for engineering schools to pull back on faculty hiring while continuing to admit more students.

With the continued lament about needing more engineering grads, it makes sense to invest in turning out not only more engineering students, but engineering students who are actually prepared to contribute to technology and manufacturing companies around the country.

Aaron Hand is the managing editor for Control Design and for Industrial Networking. Email him at ahand@putman.net or check out his Google+ profile.