Kern Foundation Grant Boosts Entrepreneurial Education For LTU Engineering Students

SOUTHFIELD — Lawrence Technological University has received a three-year, $697,000 grant from the Wisconsin-based Kern Family Foundation to support expansion of entrepreneurial education for undergraduate engineering students.

This is the final phase of a series of Kern grants totaling more than $2.4 million that began in 2003. The goal is to incorporate an entrepreneurial mindset into undergraduate engineering education at LTU.

LTU provost Maria Vaz, the university’s top academic officer, is principal investigator on the grant.

A key component of the program supported by previous grants is the modification of close to 50 courses with problem-based learning and active-and-collaborative learning within an entrepreneurial context. Classroom work has been supplemented by co-curricular and extra-curricular entrepreneurial activities such as internships and industry-sponsored projects.

Lawrence Tech has also modified the freshman introduction to engineering course into an interdisciplinary design studio experience which incorporates the foundations of entrepreneurially minded learning.

“Having the students solve open-ended design problems and learning how to ask the right questions of a customer are critical entrepreneurial skills that students engage in right from the beginning of their college education,” said civil engineering professor Donald Carpenter, co-principal investigator for the grant.

The latest phase of this ongoing academic enhancement has four major components:

* Development and institutionalization of a multidisciplinary sophomore experience utilizing the principles of a project-based studio environment to instill an enterprising attitude in students.

* Integration of opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded education in the junior year that will link the required freshmen and sophomore entrepreneurial design studios with the senior capstone project.

* Exploration of integration of entrepreneurial-minded, problem-based learning problems that are currently part of fundamental science courses into the sophomore entrepreneurial engineering design studio experiences and into the junior year curriculum.

* Implementation of a focused training process for other faculty so that all other students at LTU will have the same educational experience across the curriculum.

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