Faculty internships tie School of Engineering into community

November 11, 2019

Purdue Northwest engineering students work together on a project.

Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) School of Engineering is expanding and deepening connections with industry and manufacturing partners in new and novel ways. To support and drive changes needed and demanded by employers in Northwest Indiana, the School of Engineering has designed the PNW Engineering Faculty Internship Program.

“The program puts PNW Engineering faculty to work in our region’s manufacturing plants, in our community agencies, and at our industrial work sites, giving them an opportunity to share their expertise with their colleagues ‘on the ground’ and also bring back to the classroom a better sense of what our engineering students need to learn and master before they graduate,” said Dietmar Rempfer, director of the School of Engineering.

Faculty might be tasked to solve a specific engineering problem, or assist partners in reimagining how to do business in a fast-changing, competitive environment. The result of the program is stronger connections and shared agency. It is a powerful combination that helps break down the divide that sometimes exists between academia and industry, and reflects what is possible when we all look at what we are doing through a different lens.

Program Implementation

Faculty apply to the program by submitting a brief application together with a letter of support from the hosting institution, agency or company endorsing the proposed project. Depending on the nature of the project in question, funding sources may be provided by the School and/or by industry, agency or community partners. After completion of the internship, the faculty member provides a short report describing professional activities, accomplishments and outcomes of the engagement. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, participants offer a seminar presentation to School of Engineering faculty and students in the fall following the internship, and representative(s) of the internship’s host are encouraged to participate.


Yun (Tom) Liu, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, is the first recipient of the PNW Engineering Faculty Internship Program.

Yun (Tom) Liu, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, is the first recipient of the PNW Engineering Faculty Internship Program.

The first recipient of the PNW Engineering Faculty Internship Program, Yun (Tom) Liu, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, collaborated with engineers at Michigan City-based Dwyer Instruments to develop and improve a novel 4-channel Pitot tube sensor. Liu’s expertise in experimental fluid mechanics helped lead to a redesign of one of the company’s products.

“While Dwyer Instruments has excellent testing facilities for developing instrumentation, we sometimes encounter problems beyond our internal expertise. For these situations, we reach out to Purdue Northwest for the combination of Dr. Liu, a recognized expert in the field of measurement, and PNW’s state-of-the-art test facilities,” said Robert Moss, director of engineering at Dwyer Instruments. “This collaboration with the Dwyer design team led to a breakthrough solution for a problem that’s long existed in the test instrumentation market.”

The Engineering Faculty Internship Program demonstrates how Purdue Northwest and the School of Engineering help accelerate and improve the quality of life in Northwest Indiana, a region that has one of the highest shares of manufacturing employment in the nation.

Faculty members working side-by-side with colleagues in manufacturing, industry and community agencies not only support our region’s employers but also prepare PNW engineering students to enter the workforce with the best skills possible.

The School of Engineering at Purdue University Northwest

The PNW School of Engineering is recognized for its expertise in mechanical, civil, computer, and electrical engineering. For 2020, U.S. News has ranked the school No. 52 among the Best Engineering Programs in the United States, of engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s degree.