School of Engineering Wins Major Grant to Enhance Entrepreneurship Offerings

The School of Engineering has received a $50,000 grant to expand and modify course offerings. The School is one of just five in the country to receive the grant this year from the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network. The grant will run for two years, with options for renewals thereafter through a competitive process.

The KEEN program is funded through the support of the Kern Family Foundation and offers institutions access to vital resources for building quality entrepreneurship education programs that engage engineering and technical students in hands-on learning. The goal of KEEN is to make entrepreneurship education opportunities widely available at U.S. institutions of higher learning, and to instill an action-oriented entrepreneurial mindset in engineering, science, and technical undergraduates.

The School, which was founded in 1985, has always encouraged its students to take an entrepreneurial mindset, emphasizing problem solving and inventiveness, said Dean M. Dayne Aldridge. The engineering curriculum currently places a heavy emphasis on projects. Students begin the process with a yearlong first-year design sequence in which they work in teams to build a machine for competition. This emphasis continues into their Senior Design Projects, where they apply their problem-solving skills to real-world situations.

“Our curriculum was designed from the outset to give our students an edge in the engineering world by emphasizing communication, creativity and problem-solving skills,” Aldridge said. “Our students have always been inventive, particularly in their senior design sequence, often helping companies solve problems or seek new solutions to problems. This grant allows the School to take it one step further by giving them the tools to act entrepreneurially within the companies they work for and give them the skills to build their own ideas into businesses.”

The curriculum changes will include an introduction to entrepreneurship during the freshman year as well as a new Entrepreneurship General Education option. The EGE option will be a series of five courses, including three from the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics – “Principles of Marketing,” “Principles of Management,” and “Entrepreneurship;” a course in the School of Engineering called “Engineering Innovation and Creativity” and the Senior Design Sequence. As part of the EGE option students’ Senior Design Projects will focus on an entrepreneurial technical solution to a real-world problem and will require a full business plan for the project. The projects in this category also will compete for an Entrepreneurship Award. Finally, the School will promote entrepreneurship to all students through lectures, faculty advising and invited presentations.

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