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Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies

Purdue University in West Lafayette

Interdisciplinary engineering studies is for students who want exposure to foundation-level engineering coursework, but do not plan to practice engineering. The program offers considerable flexibility and permits you to develop a plan of study to meet educational goals associated with working at the interface between engineering and other disciplines.

Established options in the program include premedical engineering studies and engineering science studies.

Note: The First-Year Engineering Program is the entry point for all beginning engineering students. They must complete the First-Year Engineering requirements before entering the engineering school of their choice. The mission of this student-oriented service program is to advise, teach and retain outstanding students for Purdue's College of Engineering. This core curriculum includes courses in math, chemistry, physics, computer programming, and communication skills, as well as introductory engineering coursework taught in the new Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Laboratory. The First-Year Engineering Program provides students with a firm foundation and initial understanding of engineering and career options to assist them in identifying which of Purdue's engineering disciplines is the right fit. Our professional academic advisors, faculty and student advisors are dedicated to assisting beginning engineers with the first-year experience.

Speaker of the House, Brian C. Bosma, 1981 Graduate

portrait of Brian Bosma

Brian Bosma grew up in a family that placed a high premium on public service. His father, Charles Bosma, was enrolled in the Purdue Chemical Engineering Program in the 1940s but was called to fight in World War II. When he returned from the war, like so many others of that generation, Charles believed they could change their communities just as they had changed the world. Charles Bosma’s journey to serve his country on the battlefield led him to the state capitol serving in the Indiana Senate for 21 years and making a deep impression on Brian, who would later follow in his father’s footsteps. Though before there was a passion for law and politics, Brian had a love of engineering that sprang from his boyhood dreams.

Brian grew up in Beech Grove, Indiana, a rural suburb of Indianapolis in its time, in the family dairy business. He was born a month after Russia launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. As he grew up in this new space age, he recalled, “It was made very clear that those of our generation talented in science, technology, and mathematics were going to address the Cold War crisis and the race to space.” As he grew up, his parents made it abundantly clear he was going to be a Purdue engineer.

Upon entering Purdue, Brian wasn’t sure which discipline of engineering to choose but was drawn to civil for his love of construction and building. He was also passionate about history and political science, and he knew he wanted each of these disciplines to be part of his education and maybe even part of his profession. With not quite enough credits for a civil engineering degree and over fifty credit hours in the College of Liberal Arts, he learned about the Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies program that would allow him to combine the two areas of his passion. He met to discuss his options with Dr. Dick Grace, who Brian acknowledges as a big influence for him while at Purdue. Dr. Grace encouraged Brian to put together a combined program to submit to the faculty for review and approval. His approved plan, found only recently in a folder containing Brian’s Purdue memorabilia, stated he wanted an engineering degree but wanted to stand at the intersection between the professions of engineering and law. Unique yet critical, it would provide training in both professions, enabling engineers to talk about their legal issues to an engineering-trained attorney.  

His IDE personal plan of study, along with his law degree from Indiana University, accurately predicted what Brian still does today. His law practice focuses on construction, both contracting and issues during construction, and dealing with environmental issues, which was the emphasis of his Interdisciplinary Engineering degree. How unique is an engineer who practices law? It is fairly rare, but of the nineteen attorneys at Brian’s firm, there are four who have engineering degrees. Brian’s response to those who ask, “What I truly appreciate is that I can see solutions in black and white, and I can also see in shades of gray, understanding that there may be a mathematical and science application where there is definitely a right answer, but as in law, there could be a lot of right answers. One approach informs the other and it has made me a better lawyer, a better public policy maker, and it certainly adds to my personal and professional credibility.”

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Plan of Study

Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies Webpage

Transfer to Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies

Purdue admits to individual majors. Transfer students must meet Purdue's overall transfer criteria, as well as any major-specific requirements. Before you apply, check the closed programs page to confirm this major is open to transfer students. If it is, refer to the information below for major-specific transfer criteria.

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Additional Requirements: See the Engineering Transfer Criteria page for more detailed course requirements and admission criteria.

Contact Information

Christine Pekny
(765) 494-7422

College of Engineering

Careers in Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies

Alumni work in a range of professional areas, covering a range of managerial and non-managerial levels. This is one pathway of many for pre-medical studies. Important program attributes include developing communication skills, the art of self-learning, teamwork, and ethical approaches to problem solving.

These skills prepare you for research and development positions in industry, as well as for careers in management, sales, teaching, medicine, and law.

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