$225,000 for entrepreneurship

Nov 26, 2008

Kettering University to receive $225,000 to promote entrepreneurship studies.

Kettering University, known for creating tomorrow’s leaders in business and industry, will receive $225,000 to encourage the development of a nationally innovative program focused on teaching entrepreneurship studies across the curriculum. Kettering joins the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) as the only two grant winners to enter the next phase of a program spear-headed and supported by the Kern Family Foundation of Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Kettering President Stan Liberty said the grant will support “Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum” to infuse Engineering and Science disciplines at Kettering with the concepts of both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. “Once implemented, no student will be able to complete their studies at Kettering without being exposed to these concepts multiple times,” Liberty explained. “This is an exciting development for both our University and for furthering economic re-development in this region of Michigan. It is one more way that Kettering can encourage and support new and innovative business development. I am grateful to the Kern Family Foundation for this opportunity to propel the knowledge economy in productive and helpful ways in our state.”

Dr. Michael Harris, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Kettering, said he was delighted with the news and thankful to the foundation and to the many faculty members and talented students who have laid the groundwork for Kettering’s nationally innovative program. “This generous grant and the confidence expressed by the Kern Family Foundation will help us prepare students who excel in Engineering, Science and Business, while valuing and promoting entrepreneurship. It is consistent with our mission and gives Kettering another opportunity to enhance the University's capacity to provide relevant opportunities to prepare for and even create the jobs of tomorrow.”

The grant has been awarded as part of the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), a program encompassing 22 universities and colleges across the country. KEEN aims to graduate engineers equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset who will contribute to business success and in so doing transform the U.S. workforce. The strength of the KEEN program is in this network of colleges that collaborate to share best practices in producing entrepreneurial-minded graduates.

Harris explained that through faculty training Kettering will expose students to entrepreneurship throughout their academic and co-op experience, including working with students to incorporate an entrepreneurial focus in their senior theses. To do this, key faculty and administration will establish a seminar in which representatives from each department will participate to learn the importance of entrepreneurship and to integrate it into their courses. Kettering faculty will also read articles, listen to and question guest speakers, and participate in a term-long workshop where the outcome is a revised syllabus for their own courses. They will also teach from the revised syllabus and document the changes made. Once the University has piloted this new system, it will serve as a model for other universities in the network to adopt or adapt as they reformulate their curricula.

In 2006 and 2007 respectively, Kettering received two $50,000 grants through KEEN to implement courses to instill the entrepreneurial mindset and develop the Kettering Entrepreneur Society (KES, www.kesociety.com). The KES is a student-lead organization that sponsors business plan competitions, provides support services and seed funding for start-up businesses in an effort at promoting an entrepreneurial culture at Kettering based on innovation. Developed through the efforts of Dr. Massoud Tavakoli, professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Andy Borchers, interim head of the Dept. of Business, with assistance from Dr. William Riffe, professor of Manufacturing Engineering, entrepreneurial studies and the KES have shown tremendous success in attracting students interested in exploring their business ideas and launching a number of viable companies in Michigan.

Drs. Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern have acknowledged the grants to Kettering and IIT by stating, “As we have watched IIT and Kettering develop their engineering entrepreneurship education with the initial support they earned from our Foundation, we have seen an alignment and a pattern of accomplishment that bodes well for both the future of their engineering colleges and, more importantly, for the United States. With the changes these colleges plan to make within their engineering curriculum, we feel their graduates will be better prepared to inculcate the entrepreneurial mindset in their engineering work, whether or not they themselves become entrepreneurs. We are pleased to be able to further the work of the universities in their mission to develop engineers who will develop technically based solutions that will meet unmet market needs that will serve a global economy.”

According to Jim Rahn, Kern Family Foundation president, “we are pleased to see that Kettering and IIT have been able to ‘catch the gleam’ from the Kern’s vision and take it to the next level. With these grants, we are excited about the future of our KEEN network of engineering colleges and we anticipate that the other KEEN colleges will respond in like manner to form a network of universities across the country that will synergistically create an engineering entrepreneurial force that will be sustained in the years to come. This may be a new paradigm for higher education – universities working together as a united force.”

About the Kern Family Foundation

Established in 1999, The Kern Family Foundation invests in the future through support of programs that promote values, education and innovation. The Foundation aims to effect systemic change through broad-impact, long-term initiatives, including Education Reform, K-12 STEM Education, the Kern Scholars Pastoral Ministry Program, the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network and American History, Economics & Religion.

About Kettering University

Located in Flint, Michigan, Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute) offers the nation’s most advanced university-level cooperative education program in engineering, sciences, mathematics and business. Founded in 1919, the University also offers graduate programs in engineering, information technology, manufacturing operations and management, and a comprehensive MBA program. Kettering University is ranked among the nation’s finest specialty schools by U.S. News and World Report. For further information, visit www.kettering.edu.