Santa Clara University

SCU Engineering News

SoE receives $1.142M KEEN grant

Students test their Innovation Challenge design
Photo: Mike Rasay

The practice of promoting an entrepreneurial mindset among undergraduate engineering students received a big boost from KEEN, the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network, with a $1,142,000 grant to SCU’s School of Engineering.

The grant is a mark of the organization’s high regard for Bronco engineering as a model for other universities based on our expertise in interdisciplinary, hands-on engineering and industry collaboration that produces real products and services with real customers. SCU faculty members Christopher Kitts, director of the Robotics Systems Laboratory, and Ruth Davis, associate dean for undergraduate studies, head SCU’s KEEN program and lead KEEN schools in the area. Approximately 20 universities are funded nationwide.

With this grant and funding from a previous $50,000 award, SCU has added new courses that contribute to a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, and has initiated innovation competitions bringing engineering and business students together to work on challenges for BMW, NASA/Ames and NVIDIA.

“This funding provides an exceptional opportunity for our engineering students to gain experience harnessing technical innovation for direct customer benefit and becoming actively involved in project management, systems engineering, financial planning, costing, etc., while working with and learning from their peers in the business school ,” said Kitts. “A number of our senior design teams include one or more business majors who have been working alongside the engineers all year on their capstone projects.”

Co-ops, speaker series, mentoring, and club activities are also features of SCU's program as is close collaboration with partners from other KEEN universities such as Milwaukee School of Engineering, St. Louis University, and Baylor University. One objective of the university collaborations is to establish the KEEN organization as a leading academic network in providing world-class education in entrepreneurial engineering education.

"This grant allows us to provide many new, exciting educational opportunities," said Kitts, "some of which are best of class practices already being used by other universities in the KEEN network. At the same time, the foundation is particularly impressed by the manner in which we run some of our long-term 'entrepreneurial enterprise' projects, to the point that they have funded us to export this capability to other universities."

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