According to Twila Ortiz, director of
Pursuing engineering — and Purdue
undergraduate affairs for the College of
Engineering, “Engineering Ambassadors
promote goodwill as the face of Purdue
Engineering at events, activities, and
For corporate partners like Eastman
Chemical Company and Rockwell Collins,
supporting this exceptional student group
is an investment in the future — and it
is already paying dividends for both the
college and the companies.
A $20,000 gift last fiscal year from Eastman
and a $15,000 gift from Rockwell Collins
directly benefited the ambassador program.
The ambassadors received training to develop
their leadership skills, provide knowledge
about Purdue, and hone their expertise in
a particular field. They used their polished
skills to plan and host Pursue Purdue in April
2014. The event, supported by the corporate
funding, was for prospective engineering students who had been awarded a Presidential
Scholarship but had not yet accepted the
University’s offer of admission.
“We met with the students, but also their
parents, who play a key role in making the
decision to say ‘yes’ to Purdue,” says Ortiz.
“We framed it in a ‘return on investment’
Making the right connections
context, which helped allay their concerns
about the cost of a college education, but
it was the one-on-one interaction the
students and their families had with our
ambassadors and sponsors that really made
an impact.” Ultimately, 75 percent of those
Presidential Scholars and their families
did choose Purdue and are now part of the
college’s first-year engineering program.
The partnership helps students make necessary industry and corporate connections.
Brendan Michaelsen, a current engineering
ambassador, now begins his junior year at
Purdue with an internship at Eastman on
In addition to participating in Pursue
Purdue, Michaelsen and other ambassadors
had traveled to Eastman’s headquarters
in Kingsport, Tennessee, for its inaugural
Eastman Ambassador Leadership Forum
last fall, which included similar student
groups from several of Purdue’s peer
institutions. Eastman is making this an
annual corporate event, and has expanded
its involvement in similar activities held
at Purdue with Rockwell Collins and other
For Michaelsen, the visit to Eastman was an
opportunity to learn best practices for student
development and to build on a network that
led to his internship, which added value to his
promising career as a mechanical engineer.
“I brought back a lot of ideas to improve
PARTNERS IN PROGRESS
Purdue’s Engineering Ambassadors serve as representatives of the
University’s high-quality students and educational programs, with
a core mission to enhance and expand student representation in the
college’s alumni/alumnae relations and fundraising efforts, as well as
in student recruitment and retention activities.