SPOKANE, Wash. – The Kern Family Foundation of Waukesha, Wisc., has awarded the Gonzaga University School of Engineering and Applied Science a $651,002 grant to further the school’s effort in instilling the entrepreneurial mindset into every engineering and computer science student, faculty and staff member. This continuation grant adds to the $355,475 already received from the Foundation, bringing the total for the initiative to more than $1 million.
“This grant continues our tradition of encouraging the entrepreneurial mindset in our students,” said Stephen Silliman, dean of the Gonzaga School of Engineering and Applied Science. “This mindset encourages our students to explore innovative solutions to global challenges that can be addressed through creative engineering design. As such, these students are increasingly attractive to employers and graduate programs throughout the U.S.”
Four years ago, Gonzaga became one of 19 engineering colleges selected for the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN). The network’s goal is to encourage students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, a set of personal and professional perspectives that complement the rigorous technical fundamentals these schools instill in their students. Through the network’s programs, students actively engage customers, develop business plans, and investigate the societal impact of their work. The students improve their communication skills, effectively collaborate as teams, and enhance their ability to persist through failure.
The program has exceeded all expectations at Gonzaga. At the 2012 KEEN Annual Winter Conference, Gonzaga was honored with the 2011 Most Improved KEEN School award and the 2011 Friend of KEEN award for Academic Vice President Patricia O’Connell Killen’s work with the initiative.
With this financial extension, the School of Engineering and Applied Science increased the frequency of student engineering competitions designed to provide students with hands-on learning experiences to a total of nine for this academic year and launched a KEEN “Living and Learning Community” in Goller Hall, which houses engineering and computer science students. This community experience is designed to instill KEEN elements throughout the school year and improve student retention. The KEEN grant also provides entrepreneurial workshops for faculty and additional assessment tools and new curricula for faculty.
Faculty involved in securing the KEEN grant include Professor Vladimir Labay, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department, computer science Professor Paul DePalma, and an interdisciplinary team from the schools of business administration and education.