Director of the Office
When potential students consider pursuing engineering degrees at Purdue, David Bowker's Office of Future Engineers often is their first point of contact for information.
Bowker has been the office's director for 11 years. During that time, he's always strived to represent the College of Engineering attractively to all comers. And due to an overall 17 percent increase in the college's enrollment during the past five years, it's safe to say that Bowker's job — and his enthusiasm — won't slow down anytime soon.
In what ways does your office disseminate information about the college?
In addition to the daily engineering informational sessions we hold here on campus, we conduct targeted visits to high schools across the country. We participate in numerous programs here on campus as well as develop marketing materials and social media presences. We also meet with high school guidance counselors to provide them with information they can then pass on to their students. Our office reaches out to more than 30,000 students each year. There is never a dull moment!
How do you sell the college to potential students?
Whenever we talk about the College of Engineering, we showcase our breadth of resources and academic options. By that, I mean we discuss Engineering's 16 majors, and the more than 30 buildings in Lafayette and West Lafayette that are in some way affiliated with the college. We have a variety of ways for students to gain work experience, conduct research, go global, complete engineering projects and have fun. We also emphasize the college's collaborative environment — students here work together from their first week as freshmen.
Another thing we like to point out is that company recruiters in the Wall Street Journal have ranked us as the second-best engineering college in the country. Companies know that Purdue engineers will hit the ground running, and that they will be excellent problem-solvers and communicators. Honestly, there are just so many great things to point out about the College of Engineering that we're never struggling to find things to talk about. The bigger challenge is keeping up with all of the cool stuff happening.
In what ways are you also an ambassador for engineering as a profession?
We do engineering outreach presentation to high schools and middle schools, and in those sessions, we discuss the merits of engineering as a career. If we can get even one young person excited about engineering when they have never considered it before, we feel successful even if they don't end up at Purdue.
When we recruit students, we always want to make sure Purdue is the right fit for them. We want to get the best students, but we also want to make sure this is a place where each of our students will be happy for the duration of their college careers.
How did you end up as the Office of Future Engineers' director?
I have two Purdue degrees: a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership and supervision, and a master's degree in higher education administration. I'm a local guy and attended Lafayette Jefferson High School.
Before I took my current job, I was a recruiter at Ivy Tech Community College's Lafayette campus. I had a very good experience there, but I was excited at the chance to come back to Purdue, where I had such an awesome college experience myself. I got my opportunity 11 years ago and I couldn't be happier — I love meeting with families and informing them about engineering and about Purdue in new ways.
I find it fitting that my career has turned out this way. Originally, I wanted to be a teacher, but this gives me a nice mix of doing communications work and impacting students' lives. I'm passionate about my job because I've seen what Purdue engineers can do — we have alumni working for NASA, running companies and pursuing PhDs at Ivy League colleges. Just knowing that I have a small part in those kinds of successes is rewarding.