“That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”
These words were said by Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. But before that history-making two hours 19 minutes moonwalk, he was a student exploring a different kind of world: engineering. Specifically, aeronautical engineering at Purdue University — the education that some space officials cited as reasons Armstrong stood out in the astronaut corps.
His words became part of Purdue’s brand – Every Giant Leap Starts With One Small Step – encapsulating the essence of exploration, innovation, and the persistent pursuit of knowledge.
The university has not only propelled individuals like Armstrong to great heights, but has inspired generations of students to reach for the stars, quite literally. Few universities can match the impact that Purdue has had upon the US space program, with early legends like Virgil “Gus” Grissom, who was the second American in space and participant in the first US two-person spaceflight, to Janice Voss, who set the record for female astronauts with five spaceflights.
Armstrong Hall is the flagship of the College of Engineering and provides a dramatic, welcoming northern gateway to Purdue’s campus. Source: Purdue University
Purdue’s commitment to excellence is evident in its numerous accolades and rankings. It is a top 10 public university in the US, and is ranked amongst the top 100 universities worldwide (QS World University Rankings 2024).
The university’s Engineering program is a powerhouse in its own right, ranked top five in the US with over 100,000 alumni worldwide. They have gone on to become astronauts, CEOs, entrepreneurs, researchers, and everything in between.
But all engineering experts have a starting point, and when you’re climbing up the ladder in the industry, a master’s degree can be a big boost to your career. Here are four reasons why you should take the next giant leap with Purdue’s Professional Master’s program in Mechanical Engineering.
Shorter terms, higher rewards
It can feel impossible to balance a career, a life and a master’s degree. That’s where the Professional Master’s comes in – students can complete a world-class education in their engineering focus in just a year or two. The program is ideal for ambitious undergrads seeking a graduate degree and a headstart into their industry, international students wanting to work in a STEM field in the US, or busy professionals who want specialised expertise to advance in their careers.
The Professional Master’s in Mechanical Engineering is perfect for students looking to advance their careers. Source: Purdue University
Graduate Sierra Bailey took only 12 months to complete her degree. “I survived 30 credits in one year!” she says. “I was so fortunate that Purdue and my company Whirlpool worked together to help me finish my degree so quickly. I actually lived and worked at the ReNEWW House, which they accepted as an independent study project.” The ReNEWW House is a joint research project between Purdue and Whirlpool to retrofit a 1928 home in West Lafayette to achieve net-zero energy, water, and waste.
As the program is STEM-designated, international students are eligible to work in the US for up to three years under the Optional Practical Training program. Graduate Vishal Ganti, joined Eli Lilly and Company as a senior engineer after graduating in December 2023. “For me, as an international student, it was amazing to have all these opportunities,” he says.
Multiple areas of focus
With dozens of areas to focus on, the Professional Master’s ensures that students can tailor their studies to align with their passions and career aspirations. They can specialise in subjects such as heat transfer, fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, controls, design, nanotechnology, semiconductors, combustion, robotics, biomedical, and much more.
Prithvi Prasad found that Purdue offered a lot more flexibility than other universities in Illinois or Michigan. “Purdue let me take Aeronautics and Astronautics classes, just because I was interested in it. I learned design optimization and finite element analysis. But I also took operations and management classes,” says Prasad. “I personally think engineers need to be well-rounded, and this program offered me so much versatility within just a year and a half. It’s the perfect spot between deep technical dives and professional development.”
Building soft skills
Students can opt for classes that build on their soft skills on top of their regular subjects to enhance their career opportunities. These include classes on Strategic Management or Development of Global Business Strategies, both of which Bailey incorporated into her schedule. She believes that these classes have helped her gain insight into business decisions, product development cycles, and even hiring processes.
William Sanchez worked on his Professional Master’s part-time while employed full-time at automotive manufacturer ZF, taking a class or two every semester. He enjoyed the flexibility that Purdue offered, including online classes whenever needed. “Accounting taught me a lot,” he said. “I also took finance classes, which built on accounting to show how we move money and create value for our customers. It really helped me to look at business from a different perspective.”
Purdue University’s bustling campus, filled with students from all walks of life. Source: Purdue University
A lively campus
It’s exciting to live and learn at a large US university like Purdue. With a walkable campus filled with events all year long and over 50,000 students, this is a place to get together to appreciate art, celebrate hip-hop, build robots, keep bees — and explore 1,000-plus other interests. You’ll always find a new friend and connection to make in one of its over 90 fraternities, sororities and cooperative organizations. They have your back, as do the various resources and support systems that help students navigate their years here and face any challenge, big or small.
Ganti loved being a Boilermaker. “I went to so many basketball and football games while I was here,” he saysl. “The passion that students have for Purdue is something I’d never seen before. For me as an international student, it was amazing to have all these opportunities.”