University-Industry Engagement Week

Seven universities link up to build industry engagement in engineering

By David Schwartz
Published: May 10th, 2022

Seven universities are using a $662K grant from the Kern Family Foundation to launch an effort aimed at transformation of industry engagement in engineering programs by helping industry advisory boards transition from an advisory role to an active partnership model.

The seven schools — University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Boston College, Drexel University, Rowan University, University of St. Thomas, University of North Alabama, and Clarkson University — will foster “entrepreneurially minded learning” in engineering curricula, an approach championed by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), that equips engineers with skills beyond their technical abilities that can create long-lasting value and contribute to positive societal change.

“Infusing entrepreneurially minded learning in our curriculum means that our graduates will be able to think like an entrepreneur as they take on the challenges of their future work,” commented Dr. Jessica PM Fick, associate professor of mechanical engineering and co-PI for the grant. “Future engineers are taught more than just technical skills as this approach fosters curiosity, making connections and creating value.”

The project team will collaborate over three years to develop novel resources for leveraging industry advisory boards in ways that create pathways to connect industry into academic goals. They’ll create a multimedia industrial partnership board “playbook,” produce a faculty development workshop, and build a community of practice.

“A common refrain from our current advisory board members is that they wish they could do more to help out our engineering programs,” said Dr. Philip Parker, PE, acting dean of the UW-Platteville College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science and PI for the grant. “As such, advisory boards are often an untapped resource for engineering programs.”

UW-Platteville has been driving entrepreneurial mindset curriculum change across its seven engineering programs since becoming a KEEN partner in 2018. KEEN boasts a network of 50 colleges and universities across the U.S. with a shared mission to equip undergraduate engineering students with an entrepreneurial mindset.

“Industry is a direct customer of an engineering curriculum, giving them a vested interest in the formation of engineers who can identify opportunities, make connections and create significant value from their efforts,” commented Dr. Jodi Prosise, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and co-PI for the grant. “Using strategies that empower industry advisory boards to make truly meaningful contributions to engineering education has the potential to make a transformational impact on the field.”

Source: Business World

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week