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Kettering University’s cutting-edge approach for teaching students how to become innovators and entrepreneurs has been awarded a $1,651,000 grant from the Wisconsin-based  Kern Family Foundation.  The five-year grant seeks to build American prosperity by shaping a new generation of entrepreneurial-minded engineers.

Kettering President Stan Liberty said he is grateful to the Kern Family Foundation for its ongoing support of an endeavor that will teach tomorrow’s engineers to create innovative and competitive products and services. Liberty said he credits Kettering Provost Michael Harris with championing the successful initiative.  “I want to thank the Kerns for their investment that will help us better prepare American leaders in the global marketplace, and Dr. Harris for his visionary and innovative ideas, and leadership,” Liberty said.

Harris commented, “We accept with great humility the Kern family’s remarkable support that is helping our students drive America’s future competitive success.  We are pleased to be leading the development of the Kern’s vision into a national model for engineering education.”

The $1.6 million grant to Kettering is the second special recognition from the Kern Family Foundation this year.  In January, Kettering was singled out for a “Best In Class” Award from among the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) members.

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“Kettering is one of several KEEN network schools that are teaching customer awareness, business acumen and societal values, along with scientific and engineering fundamentals,” Harris explained.  “Fellow network schools share and exchange successful teaching methods and tools to impact thousands of students across the country annually.  The ongoing collaboration among KEEN network members is changing engineering education in order to keep the country in its technical leadership role in the world and to create a healthy free enterprise system that generates new jobs,” he added.

Harris has worked for the past few years translating the Kern’s vision into Kettering’s approach, which was originally called Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum (EAC) but will soon evolve into Entrepreneurship Across the Institution (EAI) on Kettering’s campus.  Kettering’s approach focuses on engaging instructors through faculty workshops which help them incorporate entrepreneurship education and experiences into the many subjects taught at the University.  Spreading this beyond the curriculum to the entire institution includes a wide variety of student activities and entrepreneurship training for the staff.  “Through this grant, the Kern Family Foundation is helping us instill an entrepreneurial mindset in our engineering students,” Harris concluded.

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The grant represents a new stage in Kettering’s five-year relationship with the foundation.  Kettering received two $50,000 KEEN grants, one in 2006 and another in 2007.  In 2008, Kettering received $225,000 to develop and implement its innovative Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum program, which earned Kettering the “Best in Class” Award.

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Written by Patricia Mroczek