Ben Moul’s student years at Purdue University Calumet have included co-driving a moonbuggy to third place in an international competition, building a spacious snow igloo, running for the university’s first cross country squad and earning distinction as a resident hall assistant.
Add a summer bicycle trip across the United States and his role helping establish the “Peregrine Posse” cheering section at Purdue Calumet basketball games, and it’s easy to understand why the 22-year-old, Hart, Mich. native uses the word, “opportunities,” to summarize his Purdue Calumet experience.
“When I graduated from high school, I wanted a college experience,” he said. “What I learned here is that a college experience is making your own mark. Here at Purdue Calumet, I’ve been able to get in on the ground floor of a lot of opportunities.”
His final opportunity as a Purdue Calumet student comes Sunday (5/20) evening, when he expects to receive his baccalaureate degree diploma in mechanical engineering during university Commencement Exercises at the Radisson Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville. Then he’ll be off to Cedar Falls, Iowa to put his newly earned degree to work as a design engineer with agricultural machinery employer John Deere.
“For a person who wants to challenge himself, I couldn’t have found a better fit,” Moul, the fifth of nine siblings, said about his Purdue Calumet experience.
Ironically, four years ago, he knew nothing about Purdue Calumet—save that it offered a full tuition, Chancellor’s Scholar Award to high school valedictorians such as himself. Two campus visits later, he was enrolled.
Coming from a small high school, Purdue Calumet’s small class sizes “made me feel comfortable,” he said. The former Hart High School athlete also found Purdue Calumet’s diverse intramural sports program to his liking.
Additionally, he has been able to channel his academic prowess and competitive nature by helping design, build and race Purdue Calumet moonbuggies. The NASA Great Moonbuggy Race is held each spring in Huntsville, Ala. for lightweight, human-powered vehicles similar to the Apollo lunar rovers developed by NASA four decades ago for U.S. astronauts’ use during moon exploration trips. As one of two drivers, Moul raced a Purdue Calumet buggy to a third place finish in this year’s competition, which featured collegiate buggy teams worldwide.
A couple weeks later, he was part of Purdue Calumet’s Human Powered Vehicle Challenge team that placed 14th nationally in competition sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
“The fact that the vehicles achieved much success in these races is a tribute to Ben’s work ethic, motivation and, not least, his athletic ability, as well as that of his classmate (Phil Mann),” Purdue Calumet Professor of Mechanical Engineering Harvey Abramowitz said. “Ben is very personable, easy to work with and, he has a very fun loving side.”
He also is driven by challenges.
Outside the classroom and laboratory, he embarked on a plan during the summer of 2010 to bicycle across the United States in 80 days; he finished in 35.
The following winter, with classes canceled for several days due to a paralyzing, February snowstorm, the enterprising engineer-to-be spearheaded an igloo-building activity outside his University Village campus housing facility that produced a snow structure so roomy and accommodating that Moul and mates watched the 2011 Super Bowl on television from its confines.
Cheering on Purdue Calumet’s Peregrines basketball teams at home games as part of the “Peregrine Posse” he helped organize, becoming a charter member of Purdue Calumet’s first cross country squad last fall and spending a spring break from classes volunteering in the Dominican Republic have added to his Purdue Calumet experience. So has serving as a campus Resident Assistant that subsequently led to his induction into Purdue Calumet’s Melinda K. Dalgarn Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary, which recognizes academic achievement, leadership and service.
“The lesson I’ll take away from here is ‘Don’t judge the book by its cover,’” he said. “Initially, I wasn’t that impressed with Purdue Calumet, but the opportunities and quality of education I’ve experienced have been great. Purdue Calumet is an emerging powerhouse. There are so many good things happening here. I feel I attended at just the right time.”