2021 KEEN National Conference Talks

Day 1

In February 2021, hundreds of leaders, faculty, and staff from top universities came together in a virtual conference for engineering educators: The KEEN National Conference

Attendees were inspired and invigorated by keynotes, plenary talks, and over 30 interactive sessions geared toward reinventing engineering education with the entrepreneurial mindset. We're happy to share these exclusive talks from Day 1 of the conference, ranging from helping engineers and non-engineers work together, discovering how to find new ideas, uncovering the truth about leadership, and more. Connect with the presenters, too, right here on Engineering Unleashed.

Transform Your Career!

Faculty Development National Workshops can help you transform your career! 

Doug Melton provides an overview of the Faculty Development spectrum, including the year-long coaching available to you. Then Karin Van Voorhees, Editorial Director of Magna Publications, joins to talk about their shared dedication to advancing professional development in higher education. 

Enjoy a sneak peek at the exciting future plans that expand the spectrum!

Doug Melton

Doug Melton, Program Director, The Kern Family Foundation

Doug is always open to new ideas! He enjoys working with this community of entrepreneurially minded educators. Doug is a former faculty member in Electrical and Computer Engineering of Kettering University, specialist in wireless and digital signal processing, and former R&D Director for a technology company specializing in active control systems for sound and vibration.

What Does it Mean to Innovate?

How can engineers and non-engineers best work together to solve problems? 

In this dynamic talk, Luis Perez Breva discusses the meaning of innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset, about repurposing inventions, using technologies to scale up, and what to do if you're afraid of failure.

Luis Perez Breva

Luis Perez Breva, MIT iTeams Faculty Director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Luis is drawn to “impossible” projects. He's invented AI systems in security, telecom, finance, genetics; founded businesses; and taught, set up, and managed his innovating process worldwide in industry and academia. His book, "Innovating: A Doer’s Manifesto for Starting from a Hunch, Prototyping Problems, Scaling Up, and Learning to Be Productively Wrong," restores the spirit of inquiry and gets us talking about daring to venture into the impossible and solving real-world problems.

Surprise! How to Find New Ideas

Did you know? Engineering students have a lot in common with novelists! 

A novelist is an expert at words and grammar, but still needs an idea to write a story. As engineers, we learn to use math and science as tools. But innovation can only come by applying those tools to a new idea. So where does a new idea come from? 

AnnMarie Thomas says we get ideas from the people we meet, the stuff on our desks, the things we read, the things we play with, and maybe even what we had for dinner. But her favorite way to find new ideas is to seek out and embrace the element of surprise. Sometimes the best ideas are hiding in unexpected places! 

AnnMarie Thomas

AnnMarie Thomas, Professor of Engineering and Entrepreneurship, University of St. Thomas

AnnMarie is the founder and director of the St. Thomas Playful Learning Lab. She authored "Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation."

Willy Wonka & the Truth About Leadership

Does your engineering curricula prepare engineers for the "soft skills" of developing others? 

"There is nothing soft about these relational skills," says Kris Ropella. "Leadership is about unleashing human potential through relationships."

Using an analogy of Willy Wonka, Kris discusses the truth about leadership, the challenges in its way, and what we can do to help our students be leaders. 

Kris Ropella

Kris Ropella, Opus Dean for Opus College of Engineering, Marquette University

Kris provides vision and leads strategic planning and implementation, creation of academic programs, engagement with industry, government and other academic institutions, fundraising, and community outreach. She is also the founder and faculty director of Excellence in Leadership (E-Lead), a three-year curricular leadership development program for undergraduate students across the disciplines at Marquette.

The Entrepreneur Engineer

"We need an engineer with a depth and breadth of knowledge, and an ability and interest in lifelong learning," says Dr. Kevin Bennet. "We need people with judgment and reliability. We need people who are creative and collaborative. We need an economic and business orientation. And we need good communication." 

Dive into this overview of the innovations and developments in deep brain stimulation, and discover more about what companies are looking for in today's engineers.

Kevin Bennet

Kevin Bennet, Mayo Clinic, NaviNetics, Inc.

Kevin is the Chairman of the Division of Engineering of the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minnesota, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery and co-Director of the Neural Engineering Laboratory of Neurologic Surgery.


Conference Talk

Conference Talks, Day 2

Want more? View the next set of exclusive talks from the conference, ranging from why character is a very important purpose and aim of education, to reimagining the promotion and tenure process, to how we can humanize engineering.
CardDeck KNC

CardDeck: 2021 KNC Breakout Sessions

Get the full collection of the breakout sessions from the 2021 KEEN National Conference! Design, align, adapt, and implement concepts and experiences from engineering faculty around the nation.