Grant to Instill Entrepreneurial Mindset in Engineers

Under an innovative partnership between Florida Institute of Technology and The Kern Family Foundation, graduates of the university’s College of Engineering will enter the workplace armed with a deeper understanding of creating personal, economic and societal value.

The $276,000 grant from The Kern Family Foundation and $155,000 match from Florida Tech will support faculty professional development and curriculum enhancements through a partnership with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). KEEN is a collaboration of U.S. universities that strive to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering students.

The program will affect all nine departments at the College of Engineering at Florida Tech, which becomes one of 22 private colleges and universities in KEEN, joining other member universities such as Baylor, Bucknell and Villanova.

“Florida Tech has committed significant resources to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in the colleges of engineering and business,” said Florida Tech Executive Vice President and COO T. Dwayne McCay, “and the grant from The Kern Family Foundation puts our university in the forefront of engineering education as we intentionally and systematically develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem across the campus.”

One of the hallmarks of KEEN is collaboration, and Florida Tech professors will be able to tap into successful models used by other universities. “The Network is a very active sharing and co-beneficial environment,” said Abram Walton, one of the grant’s co-principal investigators from the College of Business. “We can work with other partner universities to share ideas and methods for teaching the entrepreneurial mindset.”

With Walton, principal investigators Beshoy Morkos and Chiradeep Sen and co-principal investigator Daniel Kirk, all of the College of Engineering, will lead a team of 18 faculty and 90 students to guide the process across all departments within the College of Engineering.

“We don’t want our engineers to just build technically sound systems, we want them to build marketable systems,” Morkos said. “KEEN puts tangible resources around students to foster entrepreneurial thinking and better prepare them as the next generation of engineers.”

Established in 1998, The Kern Family Foundation is a prominent, strategic foundation based in Wisconsin that invests in the rising generation of leaders.

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