Preparing innovators

Jun 11, 2009

Kettering University is putting its intellectual and practical capabilities to work to be the national leader in the preparation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

‘Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum’ rolls over Kettering’s campus

What makes an innovator and an entrepreneur?  What can universities do to prepare students for an economy and world that depends on innovation? What learning will lead to an enhanced economy and the creation of new jobs?  And how do you develop and enhance entrepreneurship and innovation capacities through an entire university to prepare to lead the nation?

Ask Kettering University.

“Kettering has developed the intellectual and practical capacity to be the national leader in the preparation of entrepreneurs and innovators, who also have exceptional technical and scientific knowledge,” said Dr.Michael Harris, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.  “We are building on our tradition and heritage to do it.  We have the intellectual capacity to shift our learning from the needs of a knowledge economy paradigm to an entrepreneur and innovation paradigm.

“We began this shift several years ago,” Harris explained.  “This year we developed, designed and implemented a program that is cutting edge, current and like no other program in the nation -- 'Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum' -- that involves the professional development of our entire faculty. 

The results will be a learning experience through the entire academic experience for all our students.  Our program develops a graduate who sees the world not only as a technical expert, but also as an innovator.  This program is supported by a $225,000 grant from the Kern Family Foundation,” Harris added.

“Our faculty and staff are the key," said Dr. Massoud Tavakoli, professor of Mechanical Engineering and the provost’s coordinator of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Kettering’s first cohort of 20 faculty members completed the first “Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum” workshop on June 10, a workshop that promises to be a national model for other universities. 

Next, these faculty members will teach a module within a class that incorporates the workshop’s concepts, followed by an assessment of the student learning from that module.  The second workshop will start in July. 

“Our vision is to continue these workshops until the majority of Kettering faculty and staff members have been exposed to the value of an entrepreneurial mindset,” Tavakoli added. 

“Twenty faculty members have already come together to collaborate on changing the campus mindset,” said Dr. William Riffe, professor of Manufacturing Engineering and the program administrator for “Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum.” 

Riffe said in a few years no student will be able to complete their studies at Kettering without being exposed to entrepreneurship and innovation concepts multiple times during their college years.  “It’s a cultural shift that opens everyone’s eyes to the creative ways we can change our culture,” he said.

The first faculty cohort to complete an eight-week forum/workshop on “Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum” include:

  • Dr. Basem Alzahabi, Mechanical Engineering,
  • Dr. Andy Borchers, Business,
  • Dr. David Benson, Mechanical Engineering,
  • Dr. Michael Callahan, Liberal Studies,
  • Dr. Boyan Dimitrov, Mathematics,
  • Dr. Ezekiel Gebissa, Liberal Studies,
  • Dr. Doug Melton, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
  • Dr. Juan Pimentel, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
  • Dr. Badri Rao, Liberal Studies,
  • Dr. Corneliu Rablau, Physics,
  • Dr. William Riffe, Manufacturing Engineering and program administrator,
  • Dr. Laura Rust, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
  • Dr. W.L. Scheller, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering,
  • Dr. Yuri Sikorski, Physics,
  • Dr. Richard Stanley, Mechanical Engineering,
  • Dr. Massoud Tavakoli, Mechanical Engineering and the Provost’s coordinator of Entrepreneurship and Innovation,
  • Dr. Kevin TeBeest, Mathematics,
  • Dr. Saroja Kanchi, Computer Science,
  • Dr. Lihua Wang, Chemistry/Biochemistry and
  • Dr. David Vineyard, Computer Science.

To read more, see “Pitching Innovation” at:

Written by Patricia Mroczek