Tag Archives: High School

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


PSEF’s Engineering Expo 2014

Every year, the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation (PSEF) puts on Engineering Expo. Expo is a day-long event for high school students designed to teach students about and get them interested in engineering. For this year’s Expo, the theme was Out of This World! and focused on space exploration and Aeronautical Engineering concepts.

During Expo 2014, 406 high school and middle school students from 23 schools learned about engineering principles and Purdue’s rich history with the space program. Did you know that 23 astronauts graduated from Purdue University, including Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon) and Gene Cernan (the last an on the moon)?

One of the rockets miiiiight have gotten stuck in the Ballroom's ceiling... but you didn't hear that from me.
One of the rockets miiiiight have gotten stuck in the Ballroom’s ceiling… but you didn’t hear that from me.

In the morning, students participated in a Quiz Bowl competition where they tested their knowledge of space history, engineering, and Purdue trivia. They then got to learn about different engineering clubs at the Academic Fair. Finally, they made small paper rockets, which they then launched across the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom by stomping on empty 2-liter bottles.

The cornerstone of Expo is the Impromptu Design Competition that took place in the afternoon. This year’s design challenge was a modified egg drop meant to simulate a shuttle’s re-entry capsule. Students could choose to protect between 1 and 5 “astronauts” (eggs) on their journey back to Earth. The more astronauts that made it to Earth safely, the higher the team’s score; any astronauts that sustained injuries meant large deductions. The teams were also scored based on design considerations and short presentations they made before testing their device. The top three teams win scholarships if they choose to attend Purdue at West Lafayette!

Students present their device to PSEF judges.
A team presents their device.
A student shows off her design.
A student shows off her design.






The capsules are thrown to Earth.
The capsules are thrown to Earth.


R.I.P. to the astronauts that did not survive.
R.I.P. to the astronauts that did not survive.







This year’s Expo was a huge success thanks to the hard work put in by everyone in PSEF and the awesome students and schools that participated. It’s a great event that helps students learn about engineering and get a chance to take part in an engaging design challenge. It’s been a huge privilege to direct Expo for the past two years. Thanks to everyone who came and made it great!


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.

What I Wish I Would Have Known!

If there was one thing I wish I would have known before coming to Purdue, it would be to take more physics in high school.

This is my theory… the more successful you are in college physics is in direct correlation to the amount of high school physics you had. I ended the semester with a B minus. This is the worst grade I have ever received, but also the hardest I have ever worked for.

The classes here are Purdue are not necessarily harder than any I took in high school, in fact the hardest class I’ve ever taken (after Physics 172) was my anatomy/physiology class junior year of high school. The true difference lies in the amount of accomplishment you feel after completing them. In college you cover twice the amount of material in half the time. The work isn’t harder, there is just more of it. It is not out of anyone’s capability, it is just out of some peoples will.

One of my favorite parts about Purdue is that students will put their school work first. We work hard to accomplish that A and will not settle for the bare minimum. We are here to learn. I pay good money to sit in these classes and will not accept from myself or my professors,  anything less than a great education. I’m excited to go back in the fall and work hard. With Physics 172 out the way, I feel like I can tackle any material I set my mind to.