Contributed by Edmond Dougherty. This article originally appeared in KEEN Annual Report, 2019-2020. Reprinted with permission.
The University of Toledo (UT) has leveraged state scholarship funding to help attract the brightest graduates from Ohio high schools into UT’s KEEN entrepreneurially minded learning-imbued engineering entrepreneurship minor programs: Entrepreneurship, Family and Small Business, and Professional Sales. The program enables implementation efforts of entrepreneurially minded learning (EML) concepts in the first-year student engineering experience.
The local funding seems the perfect complement to KEEN. The COFFEE Scholarship (“Choose Ohio First for Engineering Entrepreneurship”) pairs engineering with entrepreneurship and hands-on business experience, so graduates excel with technical skills and a minor in much-needed business expertise. The COFFEE scholarship is funded by the State of Ohio’s Choose Ohio First (COF) program, which seeks to address Ohio’s STEM workforce needs and grow the Ohio and US economy.
Lt. Gov Husted with 1st year Mech Eng Technology student Greg Goubeaux
Lt. Gov Husted with 1st year Information Technology student Rida Ali and her poster
The program has curricular and extra-curricular components. In addition, public and private employers provide advice, entrepreneur-mentors, and co-op employment to scholarship recipients. The outcome aligns with what STEM companies need - engineers who can relate to and sell to their customers.
UT leadership ensures the program embodies EML and the 3C’s (curiosity, connections, and creating value) by introducing these concepts from day one in the students’ first year.
Dr. Scott Molitor, Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, believes what KEEN enables is a competitive edge for students in both their engineering coursework and their co-op experiences.
He states, “We’ve augmented the first-year experience so students focus on identifying the right problem to solve and understand how their work creates value. The framework around the 3C’s will help students grow as lifelong learners.”
Dr. Norman Rapino, Professor of Practice of Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurially Minded Learning, believes that every engineer starts out being curious. The trick is to show them how curiosity translates to lifelong learning through the process of creating value—both for themselves and for their employers.
He shares, “Creating value means understanding the business realities of the company and its customers. We talk about these things regularly so it’s not a foreign topic. Staying current in the knowledge base of your field, paying attention, and being proactive are essential to create value for your employer as well as for yourself through job satisfaction and personal success. There’s a conscious effort to infuse the higher-level KEEN ideals in every assignment, with a practical-minded emphasis on what engineers will do in their everyday work. The goal is to make these students more employable, more successful, and more personally fulfilled.”
In forging strong relevant connections with its state funding agencies, the University of Toledo has amplified its KEEN EML capabilities, aided the community’s industrial needs, increased the future value of its graduates, and helped establish EML as part of the academic culture.
1st year COFFEE scholars with keynote speaker Tyler Oberly, Director of Analytics for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the COF Scholar Showcase in February 2019.
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