sealPurdue News

March 1998

Opportunity knocking loudly for technology grads

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Technology education is no longer the domain of trade schools and correspondence courses, according to Ronald J. Burkhardt, director of student services for Purdue University's School of Technology.

"A college degree really does make a difference in this field," Burkhardt explains. "And a Purdue degree carries a lot of weight with employers."

The school's placement rate for 1997 was 94 percent, with another 4 percent of graduates electing to continue their studies in a master's or doctoral program.

Recruiters visiting the West Lafayette campus this past year resembled a Who's Who list of Fortune 500 companies. Corporations that hired Purdue Technology graduates in 1997 included the McDonnell Douglas Corp., Boeing Co., General Motors Corp., International Business Machines Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Kellogg Co., and the Walt Disney Co. Average starting salaries ranged from $30,000 to $60,000, depending on the career field.

Burkhardt credits a dynamic, well-connected faculty for much of the graduates' success.

"Faculty members here have an average of 10 years experience in the field and retain their ties to their former companies," he says. "The needs of industry really drive the curriculum, and it's constantly revised to meet the demands of employers."

This relationship between instructors and high-tech industry has helped establish Purdue as a national leader in technology education. Today, nearly half of all textbooks used in technology education nationwide are written by Purdue faculty.

Students in the School of Technology can choose from 14 academic majors offered by eight departments: aviation technology, building construction management technology, computer technology, electrical engineering technology, industrial technology, mechanical engineering technology, organizational leadership and supervision, and technical graphics.

Because the academic offerings and career possibilities are so varied, many students don't recognize the opportunities associated with technology education until after they've begun their college careers.

"Technology is really the bridge between the idea and the actual delivery of a product or service," Burkhardt explains. "We do the applications end of engineering and small business, making it a very broad yet highly specialized field. Sometimes students don't discover the School of Technology until after they've been on campus for a while."

The word is obviously getting out. Enrollment has grown to 4,100 students this spring, up 151 students from a year ago, making Technology the third largest school at Purdue behind the Schools of Engineering and School of Liberal Arts.

In the fall of 1997, an additional 1,728 students were enrolled in Purdue technology programs located at 11 outreach sites in Anderson, Columbus, Elkhart, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, Muncie, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Versailles. The statewide program allows students to earn an associate in applied science or bachelor of science degree from Purdue by attending classes closer to their own communities. It also provides opportunities for people already working in the field to update or enhance their technical skills.

CONTACT: Burkhardt, (765) 494-4935; e-mail,

Compiled by Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2077; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,