The Office of Future Engineers (OFE) celebrated the 5-year anniversary of its creation this past year. The occasion was marked in true OFE style with lots and lots of quality coffee, sweet treats, games (corn hole works well in the atrium - no wind!), students, laughter, and of course music that was just a bit too loud!
So much has happened since Amy Glenn and I mapped what this department would look like and how it could best serve our future families and the College of Engineering (CoE). In the last five years, as a result of the combination of experience, creativity, necessity, hard work and a willingness “to try things” we have grown from a three-person team in the School of Engineering Education to a five-member professional staff, a graduate student, and 20+ student staff. Our student staff do just about everything a successful office needs to function. They are doing web design, social media strategy and posting, planning events from A to Z, leading presentations, and providing prospective students and their families with the relevant information needed to make their college choice.
I’m truly proud of our entire team who strive to serve all we meet with enthusiasm, kindness, and care. I am also grateful to all the units, departments, and individuals that have helped us get to this point. I could easily fill out pages of names to thank - staff, students, faculty, admissions, professional schools, engineering departments, and numerous alumni. I do want to mention a special thank you to Dr. Terry Reed, who was instrumental in the recognition of OFE as a department, as well as Dean Emeritus Leah Jamieson who has always been one of our biggest supporters.
In December of 2016, we were recognized as a unit by the College of Engineering for our pioneering ideas in student recruitment, receiving the CoE Team Excellence Award was truly an honor. Lindsay Elias, was also recognized individually that night, receiving the Customer Service Award, which is so well deserved. Check out all of OFE’s awards and recognitions on our website.
Ironically, outside of those we work with regularly, I get asked often, “What do you do, you don’t really need to recruit, right?” I generally respond with a laugh, or a sigh, depending on how busy the office has been that day. Thanks to the continued quality of our programs, and the success of our alumni, we are extremely fortunate to have a large number of students applying to Purdue Engineering. As this number has grown, it takes a dedicated team across the university to help personalize the experience of those we come into contact with each day. Students have many options and are applying to more schools. Our yield - the percent of admits that enroll - for out of state students is around 17%, while for in-state students it is just over 60%.
The higher education market has become much more competitive due to the number of high school graduates decreasing significantly, the present economy as well as tuition inflation; which has put the spotlight on affordability, the ROI of college decisions, and the emergence of alternative educational deliveries. All of these factors have led to only 34% of the colleges across the country meeting their enrollment goals by May 1 (Inside Higher ED). These pressures will remain for many years while new challenges emerge. Despite the current climate, we once again were able to exceed our target numbers with 1,966 beginners in the First-Year Engineering class, made up of approximately 28% women, and the largest number of underrepresented students in Purdue Engineering’s history. More detailed numbers can be found throughout this annual report.
I am quite proud of this new class, but recognize that there is still work to be done and out of the box thinking that needs to happen in order to continue to meet our goals. I believe it is important to have a mindset in recruitment of, “maybe nobody will come,” and to focus on continuous improvement. This summer we audited all of our various presentations using live audiences, which resulted in the creation of a new interactive engineering session modeled after Purdue impact classes. This engineering session is now being implemented in the new Wilmeth Active Learning Center, thanks to positive input from visiting families. We have transformed our print pieces, creating unique pieces such as re-stickable postcard decals that other areas on campus have begun to emulate. We continue training and development of our student staff on a daily basis, providing them with the tools they need to execute most of what we do in our office, including creating and running a brand new on-campus recruitment event, and the design and implementation of a strategic social media plan.
Here at OFE we are a very fortunate group to be working at such a great university and supporting amazing students who will go out and make the world a better place. I was reminded of this recently when I ran into three recent alums at homecoming - two of them had worked in our office! They graduated about 16 months ago and as they described their jobs, I kept thinking, “I know Purdue prepares you well for this, but are you sure you’re old enough to take on all that responsibility!?” One is the lead industrial engineer for water parks at Walt Disney World, working on implementing the FastPass+ for all Disney water parks. Another is part of the team rolling out the brand-new Mustang at Ford Motor Company. The other works at Boeing and has already been referred to as a “cybersecurity expert” in Homeland Security. I was blown away by the contributions they are already making to society. This is why we continue to be inspired to do what we do!
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments about the report or if there are ways we can be supportive of your endeavors. We look forward to seeing you on campus or on the road during the 2017-2018 recruitment cycle.
Best wishes and Boiler Up!
Director of the Office of Future Engineers
Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach