FIT Joins Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network

A grant from The Kern Family Foundation will profoundly advance engineering education at FIT, making it more timely and relevant to today’s graduates as they embark on their careers.

The Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Family Foundation has made a grant of $276,000 to accelerate the transformation of FIT’s undergraduate engineering students through a culture and curricula that instills the entrepreneurial mindset. This grant elevates entrepreneurial engineering to a core value within the university and ensures the entrepreneurial mindset is an integral part of the engineering program. “Florida Tech has committed significant resources to cultivate an entrepreneurial focus in the Colleges of Engineering and Business,” said Executive Vice President and COO T. Dwayne McCay, “and the grant from The Kern Family Foundation puts FIT in the forefront of engineering education as we intentionally and systematically develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem across the campus.”

The Kern Family Foundation formed KEEN (the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network) in 2005 to assist private colleges and universities with both strong engineering and business programs to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work. The KEEN program builds a vibrant entrepreneurial culture adopted across the curriculum and is enhanced by experiential extra- and co-curricular student opportunities and connections across campus, as well as with alumni and industry.

College of Engineering Dean Martin Glicksman noted that FIT is now one of 21 private colleges and universities in the KEEN network. Other members include Baylor, Bucknell, Saint Louis, Lehigh and Villanova universities, Lafayette College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the universities of New Haven, Dayton and Detroit Mercy, among others. “Having the shared resources of the KEEN network to fundamentally shift engineering education from a product focus to an end-user focus,” added Glicksman, “is an incredible opportunity to add to the already evident success of our graduates.”

Principal investigators Beshoy Morkos and Chiradeep Sen, along with Glicksman, and in partnership with the Bisk College of Business, will lead a team of 18 faculty and 90 students to guide the process across all nine of the departments of the College of Engineering.

“The Kerns’ personal history is so evident in the KEEN program philosophy,” noted Susan St. Onge, senior vice president for development. “Robert Kern was a young engineer who developed a successful start-up which formed the business we know today as Generac. When the Kerns sold the business, it was important to them to fund a catalyst for change, and in very short order, FIT students will be an essential part of that change.”

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

—Sara Smith

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