3 Reasons Why We Love Purdue Technology
In August, I will begin my 25th year at the College of Technology, and I love the University, the college. I’ve been blessed to serve as a faculty member, as department head, as associate dean, and since 2011, in the Dean’s office. Through that service I’ve come to appreciate and love the college’s faculty and staff, students, alumni, friends, and the many practices and traditions that have made it a launchpad for a life of practical and meaningful work for many in Indiana, from around the country, and increasingly from around the globe. In a previous blog post, I examined seven keys to understanding the Purdue Polytechnic Initiative, or Purdue Polytech. The first point among the seven was:
#1: We love Purdue Technology
In this post, I’d like to examine three reasons why we care so much about Purdue Technology and how those reasons flow directly into the urgent need for tackling the challenges and opportunities of the PPI.
We Love Tech #1: Great Hands-On Education
One of the main reasons students, employers, and we love Technology at Purdue so much is the long tradition of educating young adults in a practical manner, with up-to-date tools and technology, in a hands-on manner that leaves them ready to tackle the challenges of the workplace. This year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of technology education at Purdue. We are as proud as ever of that tradition, and in moving ahead, we seek to enhance it and build on that signature strength.
We Love Tech #2: Good-to-Great Students
Purdue Technology has always been accessible to a wide range of students. Students with good grades and test scores enter Knoy Hall, and after four years they enter responsible positions, earn more than a living wage, and take advantage of opportunities to grow and develop throughout productive careers. The Harvards and MITs of the world take pride in being extremely selective, and it is difficult to know the value added from such institutions because they only select those who have already proven their ability to achieve. At Purdue Technology, we know the level of value added in the educational process is high, and we take pride in being an important factor in the development of the young people who pass through our doors.
We Love Tech #3: Students & Faculty Working Together
Large state universities can be impersonal places, and the drive for research and reputation can diminish the importance of students and faculty working together in the educational process. At Purdue Technology, there is a strong culture of students and faculty working together as part of the educational process. This is an important element in items #1 and #2 above, and it will be important for us to continue this tradition and build upon it.
Building on the 3 Loves in Purdue Polytech
These things we love are important things. We should not and will not trifle with them. As we move ahead in the Purdue Polytechnic Initiative, it is critical that we understand our regard for the College of Technology and move forward with firm intention to build upon it. In looking over the three things, I believe that the last one is the key to moving ahead in Purdue Polytech, and that our challenge as a college is to build on our strong relationships with students and go even further.
When the college was founded in the early 1960s, we knew exactly what our students needed to know, and we taught them those things. The post-Sputnik era was a time of expertise, and as faculty, we were hired as experts; we taught, students listened, and then took what they learned out into the world. Today is a different era. We use terms like “life-long learning,” “innovation,” “creativity,” and we know that our students must be learners and self starters, but we are less certain exactly what it is they need to know.
As we move ahead with the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, going even further in our faculty-student interactions will be critical, and being a faculty member will be less about sharing particular expertise and more about empowering a young person to learn what and how to learn on their own. And this will not be an easy challenge. Faculty identity is in large part wrapped up in expertise and the sharing of that expertise. Letting go and trusting our learners as they try, fail, and learn won’t be easy, but because of our hands-on classrooms, our good-t0-great students, and our long tradition of students and faculty working together, I believe we can take this important step and make it work together.