2022 Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award: Mike Erdman


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mike Erdman, retired Penn State professor of practice, has been named one of 11 recipients of the 2022 Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award by the Penn State College of Engineering.  

After graduating from Penn State with a bachelor of science in engineering science in 1969, Erdman and his family moved to California, where he helped develop the Space Shuttle while completing his master of science degree at the University of Southern California.  

Missing the east coast, Erdman and his family moved to upstate New York, where he held leadership positions in research on nuclear propulsion for submarines. He continued his graduate studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute while establishing a small farm raising thoroughbred horses and golden retriever puppies. He strengthened his connections to Penn State by recruiting alumni for General Electric and Lockheed Martin for more than 25 years.  

Wanting even more connection to their alma mater, Erdman and his wife, Donna, moved to Centre County in 2011, and, shortly after arrival, Erdman joined the College of Engineering as the Walter L. Robb Director of Engineering Leadership Development. Erdman drew on the experiences of his professional career to develop lessons for younger engineers. He significantly expanded the program by increasing the faculty from one full-time professor to five, more than doubling the undergraduate program, adding online options and graduate programs and increasing research in leadership development.   

During his career, Erdman was the founding chair of an alumni advisory board for the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and subsequently served as president of the Engineering Alumni Society. He also served on the Penn State Alumni Council for five years.   

Erdman describes himself as “a life-long advocate for Penn State,” and noted that while at USC, he tracked the performance of the Penn State and USC football programs on his office wall.  

Erdman is a fellow member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He and Donna are members of the President’s Club and life members of the Alumni Association.


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