When Ryan Warnke enrolled in the Purdue University North Central Mechanical Engineering Technology program he looked forward to a hands‑on learning experience.
“It was the best move of my life,” said Warnke, who earned his degree in May.
“PNC was the ideal small-classroom setting for me,” he explained. “The pace was hard, but rewarding. PNC allowed me to set my own schedule and my own pace. Most importantly, I could talk to my professors and they treated me like a real person.”
Warnke started his mechanical engineering studies at the Purdue
West Lafayette campus. He took a break from class for a while and after a few years, he felt the time was right to return to school.
“When I started back at PNC I was not confident in my
abilities and only took one class,” said Warnke. “The next semester I took two classes. I had straight A’s that semester. With the help of some dedicated professors, I was able to go from scholastic probation to semester honors.
“I took two classes a semester ever since. This worked for me. I could still keep a full‑time job, attend church and spend just a little time with my friends. As my confidence grew, so did my relationships with other people. I met a nice girl and tried my best to help others.”
Warnke was particularly proud of the year‑long senior design project that he and a team of students completed. Warnke, Josh Ward, Pat Kiezkowski and Chad Bailey set out to build a go‑kart that could go 100 mph. They named it Project SuperKart. The project culminated with a presentation and live kart demo of in the PNC parking lot. They even created the website www.superkart750.com to show off their project, complete with videos and photos.
“I can’t think of any other majors that let you design, build and drive your own race car,” he observed.
His team was invited to speak to a 300‑level Marketing class about using their project as a case study on how to build a business model around viral videos and word-of -mouth marketing.
“I thank Lorraine Connors Cates (limited term lecturer of Business) for believing in me and inviting me to be a guest speaker,” he said.
Warnke also worked on campus as a part‑time computer
lab technician, which he found “fun and rewarding.”
He is quick to remember his PNC faculty members, too.
“Dr. Nuri Zeytinoglu, (associate professor of Mechanical Engineering) helped me design my first house, which I built in 2005 while attending PNC. Ed Vavrek, (associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology) helped me land my first engineering job in 2007. They, along with Paul Tombers, (associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology) who raised me up in the ways of engineering,” he said. “My professors dared me to dream.”
Today, he is proud to have earned his Purdue degree and is moving forward with life.
“Having a Purdue degree carries a great deal of respect. I can say with confidence that Purdue graduates can accomplish anything,” he said. “Anything worth doing is worth the sacrifice. Nobody stands still in life, you are either moving forward or backward. I say move forward. Even if you take one class a semester, in 10 years you will be a college graduate. I plan to be an active Purdue alumnus and hope to come back for more guest speaking opportunities.”