Kern Family Foundation awards grant to Rowan Engineering to re-imagine engineering education

Kern Family Foundation awards grant to Rowan Engineering to re-imagine engineering education


The Kern Family Foundation has awarded a $295,000 grant to the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering (COE) at Rowan University to further the integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the College’s Freshman and Sophomore Engineering Clinics.

“This grant allows us not only the opportunity to integrate our ideas but also to continue to leverage our partnership with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN),” said Dr. Cheryl Bodnar, assistant professor, Experiential Engineering Education (ExEEd), “We plan to build upon best practices of others and then share our results with a broader community.” COE has been an active partner of KEEN since 2016. The Network currently consists of 33 partner institutions.

Bodnar and Dr. Cory Hixon, assistant professor, ExEEd, will lead these efforts to build and further the curriculum for the freshman and sophomore courses. Their work will foster further collaboration on best-practices within KEEN and engineering entrepreneurship education communities.

The grant will support modifications to the clinic sequence that will focus activities around developing an entrepreneurial mindset. The changes to the clinics will leverage KEEN and its 3Cs of entrepreneurially minded learning (curiosity, connections, creating value).

The funds also will support faculty participation in COE’s Rowan Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by providing the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Faculty Certificate Program – where faculty will receive mini-grants toward their integration of innovation and entrepreneurship concepts within their classes. 

“Our project has a significant focus on not only constructing innovative curriculum for our engineering students but also on how best to help faculty develop innovation and entrepreneurship training techniques to further benefit to the university community,” said Bodnar. “I believe that this grant is just the start of the work that we can do within engineering entrepreneurship.”

Bodnar and Hixon’s efforts originated from COE’s connections to KEEN and the desire to modify the existing curriculum to benefit students. Under the partnership with the Network and the grant from the Foundation, COE plans to empower faculty members to be change agents within their classrooms to better benefit students and equip them with both an entrepreneurial learning experience and mindset.

COE’s longstanding commitment to develop innovative programs to train future generations of entrepreneurial engineering leaders and the establishment of the ExEEd Department were key in Rowan Engineering being accepted as a KEEN partner in 2016.

“The grant money will help us continue to be a leader in engineering education,” said Hixon, “by not only allowing us to further support experimental learnings in the clinic, but also to continue academic collaboration with engineering programs within KEEN.

About KEEN

The Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) is a partnership of undergraduate engineering programs around the United States. KEEN focuses on one mission: to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work.

About The Kern Family Foundation

Established in 1999, The Kern Family Foundation is a prominent, strategic foundation based in Wisconsin that invests in the rising generation of leaders. The Foundation aims to effect systemic change through partnerships to preserve the tradition of private enterprise that enables the United States to thrive intellectually and economically. Its three program areas are Education and Character; Faith, Work and Economics; and Entrepreneurial Engineering.