Purdue and Ivy Tech partner in Columbus on Green 2 Gold, a program to train and retain engineers in Indiana

Photo by Mark Webber | The Republic Ivy Tech Community College president Dr. Sue Ellspermann signs a partnership with Purdue University to create the Green to Gold program. Also signing the partnership at Moravec Hall in Columbus were Allyssa Wilcox, Chief of Staff to Purdue President Mung Chieng and Senior Vice-President for Partnerships and Dr. Arvind Raman, dean of the Purdue University College of Engineering.

An agreement designed to dramatically increase the number of engineering graduates who remain in Indiana was signed in Columbus Wednesday.

The partnership between Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College creates a program called Green 2 Gold. This fall, the first cohort of 20 students will be recruited to start their engineering education at Ivy Tech Columbus under the new program.

If these students complete Green 2 Gold after two years and earn their associate’s degree, they will be given direct admission into the Purdue School of Engineering, according to Dr. Arvind Raman, who serves as dean of the School of Engineering.

Four of Purdue’s engineering undergraduate programs are ranked in the top four in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The entire school of engineering is ranked fourth nationally for research and graduate education for the third year running.

During their time at both Ivy Tech and Purdue, the Green 2 Gold students will be given opportunities to work in internships and co-op programs with private companies, said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College.

“We know the statistics are overwhelming that when a student is engaged in an internship or co-op experience, the vast majority stay with those employers,” Ellspermann said. “They become ever more ingrained into our communities, so the sooner we can have that future engineer begin working at Cummins or any of our esteemed companies, we have a much higher probability of keeping that talent.”

About 93% of Ivy Tech graduates stay in the Hoosier state, Ellspermann said.

According to Raman, Green 2 Gold will be a great boon for local employers by helping to grow Purdue-quality, job-ready engineers right here in Bartholomew County. While the program is starting in Columbus, a template is being created that will allow the program to extend to the 19 full-service Ivy Tech campuses located throughout the state, the dean said.

Much of the program is still being worked out. In fact, representatives of Purdue and Ivy Tech met immediately after Wednesday’s announcement to begin refining a number of details.

“What we are really trying to do is address a great challenge at a time when the state and nation need many more engineers,” Raman said.

During the announcement, Cummins, Inc. made a verbal commitment to support the new program. It was delivered by Steve Ferdon, director of material science and engineering for the Columbus-based corporation. The husband of Columbus Mayor Mary Ferdon, Steve Ferdon also serves as a recruiter for talent for Cummins.

He described Green 2 Gold as an innovative and welcome educational initiative that, from his perspective, makes perfect sense.

“It’s designed specifically to train and develop students along an academic track that will lead to real world, locally available career paths,” Ferdon said. “It addresses our urgent need as an employer for well-prepared, work-ready engineers.”

Columbus already has the highest concentration of mechanical engineers per capita in the nation, Ferdon said. But as the new program creates more talented engineers who want to work and live here, they will attract additional technology-based employers and entrepreneurs, he said.

“If we have that strong talent here and they have a start-up company, this is where they will want to go,” Ferdon said. “Cummins will actively and enthusiastically support this program and work hard to make sure that what you launch today is a success.”