Trustees approve Purdue Polytechnic Institute name

May 15, 2015  

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday (May 15) approved renaming the College of Technology to the Purdue Polytechnic Institute to better reflect its changing and expanded mission.

The college’s transformation is a key element of the university’s Purdue Moves initiative.

Gary Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, said the curricular and cultural transformation of the college warrants a new name and frame of reference.

“The Purdue Polytechnic Institute provides a 21st century poly-technical education that will prepare students with skills, knowledge and experiences required by business and industry today and in decades to come,” he said. “It incorporates innovative learning environments, integrates humanities with technical studies in a learn-by-doing atmosphere, and offers new options for majors and for earning a degree. As we work to address the needs of today’s economy, we are redefining the polytechnic experience.”

In fall 2014, 33 first-year students participated in the college’s pilot program of its transformed learning experience. Designed by faculty from Purdue’s colleges of Technology, Liberal Arts and Education, and Purdue Libraries, it featured new approaches to teaching, integration of English and communications courses into a redesigned learning environment and schedule, and a focus on design and project-based learning. It also focused on individual competencies that students could master at their own pace, allowing for more individualized educational experiences.

“The faculty of this college deserve enormous credit,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “By revamping their teaching methods so comprehensively, to match the evolving needs of the marketplace, they have refuted the stereotype that higher education cannot be nimble and innovative.”

Faculty involved with this initial venture - considered the educational research and  development arm of Purdue Polytechnic - simultaneously developed a proposal for a bachelor’s degree in transdisciplinary studies in technology based on the ideals of the pilot program. Previously approved by the trustees, the competency-based degree is the first of its kind at a research-intensive university.

The research and development group will continue to examine new approaches to learning and the learning environment. The methods that prove successful in their smaller environment will be marked for expansion and use across the Purdue Polytechnic.

In addition to the transdisciplinary degree, Purdue Polytechnic has expanded the number of undergraduate majors it offers to capitalize on industry needs and faculty strengths. Students enrolling in fall 2016, for example, can choose from unmanned aerial systems, audio engineering technology, supply chain management technology, game studies or health-care construction management. In all, students can choose from 36 majors, and more will be added soon.

“Team-based, learn-by-doing activities will be formally integrated throughout the Polytechnic Institute curriculum - from freshman year through industry-sponsored, senior capstone projects and internship experiences. When we combine these with an integration with humanities, students will build their understanding of the complex nature of applying technology to social issues, problems and solutions at varying scales,” Bertoline said.

This fall, all first-year students in the Purdue Polytechnic will experience a curricula that highlights the intersection between their major, design thinking (TECH 12000 course), English composition and fundamentals of speech communication. This approach expands the ideals of the pilot program across all majors and provides a foundation for the types of experiences students can expect throughout their time as Purdue Polytechnic students.

"We have always been impressed with the caliber and capabilities of the college's graduates, and this new broader and holistic view of technology education will result in graduates who are more well-rounded, allowing them to more quickly integrate into and contribute value in our company,” said Chuck Edwards, president of Lenze Americas.

New or expanded programs will focus on providing experiences where students can address real-world issues with the skills and knowledge they gain in the classroom and laboratories. Seniors, for example, will apply their expertise to real-world problems as part of their capstone projects. The School of Engineering Technology has already integrated this practice into its requirements with industry-sponsored projects. Summer and in-semester internships, global experiences, and exposure to commercialization concepts will add to their skill sets what employers say they need most from today’s workforce.

“For more than 50 years, this college has served a unique and valued role to meet the workforce education needs of business and industry in Indiana and across the nation. But those workforce needs have changed, and so too have the ways in which the current generation of students best learn. The economy has irreversibly moved to a thinking economy era where integration, innovation and collaborative problem solving are now key skills of the workforce,” Bertoline said.

One defining featuring of the Purdue Polytechnic, Bertoline said, is the constant exploration of new teaching methods, topics, experiential opportunities and research.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter for our faculty, staff and students,” he said. “While we have created the outline for where we are going, it is exciting to know that we will continually assess our programs and methods to ensure timeliness and nimbleness. It is what our students and their future employers expect and deserve.” 

Writer: Steven Lincoln, Purdue Polytechnic Institute senior writer, 

Sources: Gary Bertoline,

Mitch Daniels, 

Related information:

Purdue Polytechnic Institute transformation:

Purdue Polytechnic Institute frequently asked questions: 

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