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College of Engineering

Research

A vibrant research program in many frontier topics enhances the richness and vitality of the Purdue Engineering undergraduate experience. The multidisciplinary nature of research brings rich examples and projects from diverse fields into the engineering class, laboratory and homework. Students learn about not only the known engineering solutions but also are introduced to the unknown that may become a part of engineering.

The interplay between research and education contributes significantly to the growth of lifelong learners. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in research in special classes, academic year and summer fellowships including the popular Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships Program (SURF), internships and co-op opportunities and research laboratory assistant positions. While all classes include some element of discovery, most senior design classes and electives such as Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) provide research experiences that are truly extraordinary.

Purdue Engineering research is supported by many federal agencies, state agencies, private corporations, foundations and alumni gifts.

The Office of the Associate Dean for Research helps to provide timely information on research opportunities. Purdue Engineering research is carried out in the individual schools, in multidisciplinary centers (including two recent National Science Foundation-funded Engineering Research Centers), laboratories and in Discovery Park.

Research activities within the College of Engineering include innovation; design; materials; control; optimization; management; operation; systems engineering and logistics of aircraft and spacecraft; electronics and electronic materials; automotive systems; fuel cells and hydrogen; agricultural products and renewable energy sources; photovoltaics; advanced composites such as self-assembling and self-healing materials; high-speed and low-power circuits and electronics; new types of semiconductor materials; optics and photonics; sensing; communications; computer vision; robotics and automation; computer hardware, middleware and software; secure wireless communications and secure Internet; chemical and process catalysis; drug discovery and delivery; transportation and highways; environmental engineering; safe structures and earthquake protection; nuclear energy and medical uses of radioactive materials and fusion; heat and mass transfer; fluid mechanics including micro-fluidics; tissue and cellular engineering and biological sensing; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Many research activities within the schools are conducted in multidisciplinary centers and laboratories as well as in Discovery Park.

The National Science Foundation-(NSF) funded network for computational nanotechnology (NCN) promotes multidisciplinary research that forms an important part of the Birck Nanotechnology Center. The Engineering Research Center for Structured Organic Compounds is improving the quality and delivery of granular materials such as pharmaceuticals, and the Engineering Research Center for Compact Hydraulics is reducing energy consumption by hydraulic devices. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence for Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability promotes research on visualization sciences to enhance national security. The High-Mach Propulsion University Technology Center (UTC), funded by RollsRoyce, is investigating jet engine technology for high-speed aircraft that may fly as fast as seven times the speed of sound. A U.S. Department of Transportation-funded Regional Transportation Center is improving safety, durabiliy and convenience of our highway system.The Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation addresses earthquake risk using simulation tools and experimentation testing.

Multidisciplinary centers and laboratories provide very exciting opportunities for students with diverse sets of interests and passions. The range of interest opportunities spans environmental remediation, renewable energy and resource engineering, wireless sensing and applications, catalyst design and informatics, transportation and transportation safety, advanced laser-based manufacturing, composite materials, acoustics, interactive buildings, prognostics and diagnostics, product life cycle management, information engineering, financial engineering, nuclear reactions, high Mach number propulsion, aeromechanics and propulsion, high-heat flux electronics cooling, boiling and two-phase flows, and hydrogen and fuel cells.

Many of the interdisciplinary activities are conducted in collaboration with the Purdue colleges/schools of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, Management, Science, Technology and Veterinary Medicine.

Many of these collaborations are occurring in new buildings and facilities of Discovery Park on the Purdue campus. These collaborations bring very exciting opportunities and continued expansion of the engineering disciplines into new and unknown territories that touch on the limits of size, speed, force and distance.

Engineering education exptends from machines and their physical reality to thought, cognition and perception. Engineers are not limited to just inorganic and organic lifeless materials, but must now bring their ideas and thoughts to the living. The impact of this interaction is not just on the biological sciences but is flowing back into realms traditionally considered to be purely physical. Products that mimic biology for enhanced performance such as self-healing materials are already here. Nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sciences, and ultimately thought, cognition and emotion are becoming the realm of engineers. These are exciting times to be an undergraduate engineer and participate in some of these research frontiers.