sealPurdue News

February 1996

Job outlook 'good and getting better' for Purdue engineers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Despite the perception that the engineering job market is in a slump, the number of companies that recruited at Purdue University in the 1994-95 school year was up 20 percent from the previous year. Projections for the current school year are even greater.

And the companies that come aren't just talking with students about potential jobs-- they're hiring, says Richard J. Schwartz, dean of the Schools of Engineering at Purdue.

"For Purdue's engineering graduates, the job outlook is good and getting better," Schwartz says. "Corporate downsizing has created an impression that fewer opportunities are available in engineering, but we're seeing recruiters who are unable to find sufficient candidates for their openings."

Schwartz's message to high-school students with strong science and math skills: "In terms of employability and earning potential, engineering continues to be among the best choices college students can make."

Richard A. Stewart, director of the University Placement Service, says recruiters seeking engineers continue to visit Purdue and other schools known for their engineering programs, even if they have cut back on visits to some other universities.

"In the 1994-95 school year, we saw a 21 percent increase in the number of companies coming to campus for interviewing, from 544 in 1993-94 to 658 this past school year, and we expect even more in the coming year," Stewart says. "In fact, last year we ran out of students to offer employers in high-demand areas, such as computer engineering, software engineering and computer engineers with management backgrounds."

Not only are campus visits on the upswing, but employers also are increasingly using other means to fill openings, such as posting positions on the World Wide Web and requesting responses by e-mail, Stewart says.

Other Big Ten and Indiana campuses report similar trends.

According to the Engineering Placement Office at the University of Michigan, in the 1994-95 school year, 236 employers scheduled on-campus interviews with students in the College of Engineering, up from 188 in 1993-94. The College of Engineering at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana also saw a 25 percent increase from 1993-94 to 1995, and a 70 percent increase from two years ago, in the number of employers coming for on-campus interviews. The largest increase was in the number of smaller companies and high-tech industries looking for engineering grads, said Richard Coddington, director of Illinois' Engineering Placement Office.

The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a private science and engineering college in Terre Haute, and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend also saw increases in on-campus recruiting in 1995. Kitty Arnold, director of the Career and Placement Services at Notre Dame, says that some of the larger companies, such as IBM, General Motors and General Electric, had cut back on campus recruiting in the past couple of years, but that doesn't mean they're not hiring. She says traditional engineering jobs with such companies are still out there for students who expand their job search efforts beyond campus recruiters.

Through Purdue's Placement Service, employers schedule on-campus interviews and request student resumes. About 3,000 to 4,000 students register with the placement office each year, and engineering students make up about one third of the total. Each year about 1,200 Purdue engineering students receive bachelor's degrees. According to the 365 of those who graduated in May 1995 and reported their salaries to the placement service, the average starting salary for an engineering graduate with a bachelor's degree was a little more than $36,000.

In addition to the placement service, Purdue's engineering students have many other ways to meet potential employers. Here are a few examples:

Here are just a couple of examples:

"About 60 or 70 companies, both large and small, contact us directly every year asking us to help them find people for their openings," says Keith Hawks, assistant head of the School of Mechanical Engineering and that school's placement representative. In many cases, the call comes from a Purdue alumnus who's now involved with recruitment for the company, he says.

Mary Moyars-Johnson, manager of industrial and alumni relations for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, says calls to her office from companies looking to hire are definitely up.

"So far this school year, we've had contact with 22 executive search companies, 149 corporate and government organizations and 94 academic institutions," she says. "That's three to four times as many as in all of last year."

Of the May 1995 engineering graduates who reported their status to the placement service, more than 85 percent were employed, in the military, or continuing their education. The University of Michigan reports a similar placement rate of more than 75 percent.

But the number of engineers landing jobs after graduation is undoubtedly higher than even these figures indicate, Hawks says.

"The number of students reporting at the time of May graduation that they have not found employment can be misleading," he says. "For example, many students have job offers in hand but haven't decided on one."

Also, many companies still will be looking for new hires in the months after graduation, Hawks says. Representatives often call the school directly with job openings, so Hawks both posts the openings and keeps a list of students seeking employment to send to companies that call. "I know many students who have gotten jobs this way," he says.

Sources: Richard J. Schwartz, (765) 494-5346; Internet,
Larry F. Huggins, (765) 494-5349
Richard A. Stewart, (765) 494-3981
R. Neal Houze, (765) 494-7430
Charlotte Dootz, Engineering Placement Office, University of Michigan, (313) 764-8483
Kitty Arnold, Career and Placement Services, University of Notre Dame, (219) 631-5200
Richard Coddington, Engineering Placement Office, University of Illinois, (217) 333-1960
Bill Lindstaedt, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, (812) 877-8184;
Internet, Lindstaedt@Rose-Hulman.Edu Writer: Amanda Siegfried, (765) 494-4709; Internet,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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