Tag Archives: advice

Director Doodads

Hello future collegians (fancy word for college students)

I hope you all are all getting re-acclimated to school days as the fall is upon us.  We are super busy here in the Office of Future Engineers (see picture) and look forward to seeing you on campus. I thought I would give you some quick tips on getting your applications complete.  

  •  Have a system like a spreadsheet that lists all deadlines for all colleges.  These deadlines will sneak up on you and they are all different. For Purdue Scholarships, the deadline is November 1st. Since we are rolling admissions, the earlier you apply the more space is available.

  •  Confirm universities have received all of your materials. At Purdue you can do this online.

  • Include a letter of recommendation. This is not required, but it will never hurt if you ask someone to write the letter who knows you and likes you.

  • Do not rely only on spell check for your applications and essay. Have a live person look it over.

  • Be persistent yet pleasant while requesting transcripts and letters of rec from teachers and counselors. Give them as much notice ahead of time as possible.

  • Fewer, quality applications (4-7) is better than doing a ton of applications knowing you can only choose one.  This will cost less, take less time, and open up spots at schools for kids who really want to go there.

  • Try not to take the decisions personal (this is hard). If you want to go to college, you will find a great  place.  Highly selective universities make decisions on multiple criteria and can’t accept everyone who is qualified.  You are smart, creative, and the only you on the planet. You can be successful at multiple universities and what you do on campus is more important than which campus  you’re on (there is data!)

  •   Stay positive and be excited!! Going to college will be awesome. Enjoy your senior year and try not to get too wrapped up in the process.

  • If I can ever be of any help, ping me!!

Quick nap between appointments…just kidding
Quick nap between appointments…just kidding

Best of Luck!!

David Bowker

Director of Future Engineers


International Graduates Q&A: Question 5

What are some skills you wish you developed, as a student of engineering, which would have benefited you for your future?

Niharika Chaubey -Chem. E Graduate: I would love to develop more of my computer language skills, for some reason none of the departments I studied in forced us to take programming classes. I would also have liked to have language skills, but that I could not do due to time constraints.

Sajit Chitty – IE Graduate: I have always put in extra effort to build up on my communication skills. I feel that this is an immensely important ability to have and further develop, especially if you would like to get your ideas heard, and eventually move into a managerial position. Purdue places strong emphasis on team projects and team building and this has aided me significantly with developing my ability to present my ideas across a large group. I also chose to obtain the Certificate for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, along with my engineering degree, as I felt this program would teach me how to effectively present technical ideas to a broad audience in a coherent manner.

As an engineering student it is easy to get immersed in your workload, and not participate as much in the abundance of activities around campus. I have always been very social and would find time to socialize with students from outside my usual classes or program; however I wish I got more involved by actually joining a club or organization. I have realized that being part of an activity or club, that has set goals and a mission, is a great way to improve your time management skills because of added responsibilities, and the need to coordinate with schedules. All of these skills would pave the way for even further success in the future.

Brandon Puccio -AAE Graduate: Purdue prepared me for industry to a great extent. One of the things that I do in my current position that I did not do before was collaborate with employees or customers on the other side of the world. Time zones and language barriers come into play to an extent that I have never dealt with. I would advise anyone with the chance to study abroad to take the opportunity. International collaboration is an invaluable experience. Since my one year of employment, I have already travelled to different parts of the world to assist in the engineering of our product.

Siddharth Chhabra – IE Graduate: I wish I had learnt more about a few of the other disciplines of engineering which touch upon my current professional career.

Xianzhe Zhou – ECE Graduate: There are two skills that I need to refine on in the near future. The first one is writing skills. There is a perceived negative stereotype in regards to writing skills among the engineering world. However, having good writing gives you an edge even in an engineering position. Engineers generate reports, journals and user menus all the time. A concise and clear report can avoid much confusion during the communication process. Building on top of that, being able to translate between a business requirement and a technical requirement is the key in product development. That means learning to communicate on different levels and understand the needs and concerns of the people you are working with.

International Graduates Q&A: Question 4

As an international student, how hard was it for you to transition culturally to an American university? How did you ease your transition?

Xianzhe Zhou – ECE Graduate: The cultural transition really requires you putting yourself out and experiencing life in an American way. These experiences sometimes can be uncomfortable and create value conflicts inside. However, it is important not only knowing the culture, but actually experiencing the culture.  Going to sports events, watching television shows, and trying all kinds of food are all part of the experience. In fact, breaking a cultural barrier means going through an American childhood in a short period of time. This process can be confusing so sometimes it is necessary to take it slow and do it step by step.

Niharika Chaubey -Chem. E Graduate: The peas in the pod theory really plays well for this question. I was lucky to find a good group of friends as soon as I started college. The transition itself was not too bad for me specifically, but I definitely had a few difficulties. Having friends really eased the entire process. It would be sometimes hard to understand the colloquial term, to be able to relate to jokes in a big setting especially when there were lots of natives. Eventually I just learned to ask and clarify what I did not understand without shame and that is what got me to actually ease into the culture.

Sajit Chitty – IE graduate: I feel that every student’s transition will vary because each individual is, after all, ‘individual’. From what I recall, Purdue’s student body represents more than 120 different countries.  Therefore, the transition can be easy or hard depending on the culture and personality of the student. I am from Sri Lanka, which is a beautiful and culturally diverse country. I also attended an international school in Sri Lanka, so I was fortunate to have already been exposed to numerous cultures from some of my foreign school friends. Irrespective of all the variables, my advice to every international student is to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Go out of your way to try something new, whether it is a sport, cuisine, festival or even genre of music. Put in effort to learn about the American culture by actually making and spending time with your American friends. To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed learning about different cultures and felt that I was blessed with the opportunity to make some lifelong friends: at one point I had three roommates from three different countries: USA, Brazil, and India. We are all still in touch, in fact one of them is visiting me this July in Atlanta.

Brandon Puccio -AAE Graduate: I am from Canada. I usually say that it was a walk across the street coming to Purdue. In many ways it was. The culture is very similar. There was some transition because I come from a larger city. Some of the ways I eased my transition was to talk to other international students and get to know them. I also tried to talk to American and local students. Having this contrast in friends helped me keep a bit of my home feeling while learning about the new location that I was living. UR Global helped me get to know many people. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a mentor. I think a healthy balance of friends created a successful environment for me.

Siddharth Chhabra – IE Graduate: Initially, it was a very different culture from home (India). However, as I got to meet my fellow peers, it helped me settle down. The diversity across the campus was a big plus as I met many students going through the same transition.

International Student Graduates Q&A: Question 3

How has your Purdue experience in engineering prepared you for your professional life?

Siddharth Chhabra – IE Graduate: The Purdue engineering experience laid a strong foundation to build on and prepared me to excel in a fast-moving, innovative and challenging work environment. It provided a very hands-on and practical educational experience and helped me develop key skills allowing me to be an asset to my employer.

Xianzhe Zhou – ECE Graduate: The academic rigor of Purdue Engineering has really prepared me technically for a real world job. I was able to apply what I learned at school to various internships and also learned new skills quickly benefited from my Purdue engineering experience. The amount and the variation of team projects at Purdue equipped me with a basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts in a team situation. I am so thankful for these experiences because they really make a difference between the best engineer and an average one.

Niharika Chaubey -Chem. E Graduate: Purdue Engineering I can safely say is one of the most grueling experiences. With all the weed out classes, and immense competition, it was not easy to graduate with a good GPA, but smart and hard work pays. I feel like having gone through that, I am prepared to face the world. I would not be arrogant and say, I am absolutely ready, but I will say I am definitely ready for any challenges that might be thrown my way.

Sajit Chitty – IE graduate: The value behind an engineering degree from Purdue is appreciated once you understand that the rigorous curriculum goes beyond teaching g students theory and the respective practical applications, it teaches students how to think critically. I have started to approach decisions, whether personal or professional, with a more analytical approach. I have learned to be more systematic with observations and developed practice in logically structuring my thoughts and ideas. It may be amusing to note that my sole intention of studying engineering was not to just become an engineer. I wanted to learn how to think like an engineer, and further develop my analytical mindset since this is useful in any technical field. In addition, our professors and advisors at Purdue have always emphasized the need to keep constantly learning, in order to stay up-to-date in the field or in any focus area. I have found myself taking this advice to heart, and made it a point to spend some of my free time reading and subscribing to certain fields of interest, and have been pleased with the overall competitive edge that such efforts bring.

Brandon Puccio -AAE Graduate: I think Purdue did a good job preparing me for professional life. While I do not use a lot of my technical knowledge in my current job, I do use a lot of the skills that I learned at Purdue. Purdue taught me to work hard and to learn quickly. I am able to pick up on new material immediately and work at it until I am knowledgeable and useful to my employer. Some of the other skills Purdue helped me learn  are good communication and presentation skills, group work, collaboration, and organization skills. All of these skills were touched upon in many different engineering classes. Each skill was well practiced and perfected by graduation. Purdue helped me grow from a high school student to a professional.

Feature Interview: Minority Engineering Program

Name: Santiago Ibarra Rico

Year: Senior

Major: Aeronautical Engineering

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia

What program(s) are you involved in? I have been involved in SEW, Preface, ABC, and MITE.

Tell me a little bit about this program? Both the SEW and Preface programs are programs that target students in middle school and underclassmen in high school. These programs introduce the students to engineering by showing them that engineering is not only about math, but also about using your imagination to solve everyday problems. We also scale down larger engineering feats to a smaller magnitude so that the students can view larger problems in a smaller way.

ABC Bootcamp and MITE are different from the two other programs in that they target upperclassmen in high school. MITE helps prepare students for the SAT and also begins to show them the type of material that they will see if they choose to pursue an engineering degree after high school graduation. ABC, on the other hand, begins to expose incoming Purdue freshmen to the curriculum that they will begin once school starts in the fall.

What do you do for this program? For SEW and Preface I served as a Program Assistant. As a program assistant I was in charge of answering any questions that students had. I also had the opportunity of directing my own project, an egg drop. This project was a simplification of the landing of the Curiosity Mars Rover. For this project students had to construct a shell that would protect an egg as it fell from one or two stories, very similar to what NASA engineers did to protect the rover as it landed in Mars.

For ABC and Mite I served as a tutor to the students where I was able to interact with students on a one-on-one basis. I not only answered questions about the work they were given but also questions ranging from Purdue courses to campus life.

What is your favorite part of the program? I truly enjoyed working with and getting to know the students that I interacted with because only a few years ago I was in the same positions that they are currently in. I was also able to see the students’ growth throughout the programs.  Engineering is not for everyone and while some students decided that they did not want to further pursue engineering, some others grew more passionate about engineering which is the program’s goal. However, all students were able to expand their knowledge about engineering and learned why this major did or did not interest them; something that is truly vital when preparing for education after high school.

Why did you get involved in this program? I first learned about the programs from Dr. Cinthia Sanchez, MEP’s Outreach and Retention Administrator, and having previously worked with younger students I saw it as a good opportunity to expand the minds of younger students that will become future engineers.

How has this program affected you as an engineering student? I have had the opportunity to work alongside and gain knowledge from other engineering students that are not only pursuing their bachelor’s degree but also their master’s or PhD.

Would you recommend this program to incoming students?  I would highly recommend these programs to any and all incoming students because it gives them a perspective that not all other incoming students are able to obtain, and for ABC students it allows them to get to meet and befriend other students that they will be working with during their schooling.

Do you have any advice for incoming minority engineering students? My advice to all students, not just minority students, is to stick with it and most important of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, remember that MEP is in a way your family away from home and anyone here will do whatever they can to help you succeed and reach any goal that you set for yourself.

Did you participate in a similar program when you were younger, and if so, how did it benefit you? I did not participate in any similar programs when I was younger. However, after seeing these programs’ results, I would highly recommend them to any student that is interested in learning more about engineering.

How has MEP or this program benefited you academically and professionally? I became a part of MEP in January and in that short time I have grown a lot. I have also been able to meet a lot of highly motivated and friendly individuals that share my same goal and are more than willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me.

What other organizations are you involved in on campus? I have been involved with College Mentors For Kids as well as AIAA.

So what do you plan to do professionally? After graduation I plan on pursuing a job in either consulting or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and later returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in engineering.

Being Involved: Symphony Orchestra

Kelsey (on right) enjoys a spring day with her roommate and best friend, Mallory (left)

My name is Kelsey Delehanty and I am a sophomore in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue. During my freshman year, most of my school day was taken up with my STEM classes: First Year Engineering, Calculus, Chemistry, Physics. This wasnt a problem for me; after all, I decided to pursue a major like engineering because I enjoyed these types of classes. However, too much math and science still put a strain on my brain, which was why it was nice for me to have a non-engineering related outlet, like Purdues Symphony Orchestra.

Id been playing the viola in my schools orchestra since I was in 4th grade, but upon graduating high school, I was unsure whether I would continue with it in college. I loved playing my instrument, but I was never too serious about it. I was worried that I wouldnt be up for playing in a college-level group.

However, once rehearsals started, my doubts were assuaged. The group was lively and very accommodating of a nervous freshman. I might not have been on the same playing level as the five juniors that made up the rest of the viola section, but I certainly learned a lot from them. Most importantly, it was time out of my day that I could take a break from the stress of my other classes.

There are so many activities to get involved with on campus, and I feel its very important to pick at least one and stick with it.  It could be used as an opportunity to continue with something already familiar, like orchestra in my case, or maybe intermural soccer, or a photography club. It could also be a chance to try something new, a previously unexplored activity, like joining the swing dancing club, or the Purdue Bells.

Doing engineering 24/7 no matter how much I like it would probably drive me insane. I was glad I was able to find an enjoyable pastime to distract me from the stress of my schoolwork and I would certainly recommend the strategy to any other future engineers.

Study Notes from a Procrastinator

Everyone tells you that college is a lot of work, but if you’re anything like me, it’s tempting to think “maybe it was hard for that person, but it won’t be a problem for me.” (Conceited, I know, but I have to be honest with you if my experiences are going to help at all.) You may have excellent study habits in high school, and if you do, then congratulations, you’re on your way to success! Half the battle is building those habits.

I was the opposite of those incoming students with excellent study habits. I coasted through high school on minimal effort, not because I was genius level smart, but because I was lazy. My senior showcase essay for AP Composition was written about procrastination, since I didn’t start it until the night before it was due and I knew I could get away with it by crafting some clever sentences about how it was a fitting topic. I still remember the conclusion – a pretty lame Harry Potter joke, followed by the quip “I could think of a better analogy than Harry Potter, but it’s getting late and I have math homework to finish.”

As it turns out, engineering classes don’t accept jokes about popular culture in place of the correct answer, something I quickly learned upon arrival at Purdue. I’ll be honest – I was not a model student when it came to studying. Or finishing homework. Or going to class. As a matter of fact, I probably attended 50 percent of my Calc I classes. DO NOT DO THAT. I had taken calculus in high school and had gotten a good score on the AP test, but had decided to retake the class since I didn’t feel ready to move on to Calc II. “I can totally do this, Calc wasn’t even hard in high school” I rationalized every time I didn’t feel like waking up for class. The 37% I got on the second test of the year shocked me into studying, but by that point I had tanked my grade enough that I got a C in the class, which is not easy to admit.

I would argue that learning to study was my hardest assignment that first year. There was a lot of trial and error, and I learned that studying for hours if you’re distracted or if you’re studying things you don’t really need to review is not as effective as diligently focusing on the right things for a shorter amount of time. You have to find what works for you – I get by on my monstrous to-do lists, color coded calendars and by keeping myself busy, since I’m more likely to study if I know this is my only opportunity to do so.

I’m not going to pretend that I now have it all together, and frankly there are much better people to take study advice from. There are so many parts of my study habits that I am trying to improve upon, and I still fall into the trap of thinking I can handle more than I actually can. I also can’t pretend that the bad grade I received my first semester kicked me into gear and suddenly I studied diligently between classes from 8 AM to 6 PM (which is not a bad strategy, honestly); even my junior year of college, I stepped back and realized “yikes, I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing to study.” But the sooner you realize that you need to put consistent, dedicated time and effort into your classes, the better – your grades will improve, your stress levels will drop, and you can stop living entire days hopped up on deadline adrenaline. Procrastination feels good in the moment; a well-earned grade keeps you proud and confident for days.