transformation header image


The twentieth century was built on the idea of the industrial age. Students were rewarded for having answers, not asking questions. We are now in the digital age. It’s a very different skill set, and the expectations for graduates by business and industry are very different.

- GARY R. BERTOLINE, Dean, Purdue Polytechnic Institute

Not long ago, college students went to classes, took notes while a professor lectured, studied by themselves or in small groups to learn what was needed to pass the course, and hopefully earned a good grade by demonstrating that they had gained the necessary knowledge. That knowledge-transfer approach to learning worked well for generations of people who got good jobs and stayed with the same companies for the entirety of their careers. However, the global adoption of digital technology shrunk the size of the world.

The economy changed.

Employment was once limited by business hours and state or national boundaries. Today, business is conducted 24 hours a day from everywhere in the world.

Students changed.

Today’s students have never known an analog world. For them, information – and thus the ability to gain knowledge – has always been digital and immediate. Collaboration has never relied on physical presence.

Higher education needed to change.

The faster, more nimble world economy demands a different, more flexible and well-rounded type of worker. Employers need college graduates with the expected technical abilities who can also communicate, collaborate, innovate and solve open-ended problems.

The transformation began.

“We needed to prepare graduates who not only have deep technical skills but who also are innovators and ‘makers,’ with an attitude of curiosity to learn and connect with others, and the courage to initiate and collaborate for the benefit of society,” said Bertoline. “Further, we need to recognize the importance of humanities and social science studies and integrate those with technology studies.”

Approved by the Purdue University Board of Trustees as one of the university’s Purdue Moves initiatives, the transformation of the Polytechnic Institute has focused on 10 elements. With a focus on innovative learning methods, hands-on experiences and industry partnerships, these 10 Elements of Transformation drive the Polytechnic Institute’s dedication to impactful technology education: