Lehigh wins award for innovation in education

Thursday, December 14, 2017
2017 Award of Excellence in the Innovation Category

Left to right: Bill Michalerya, Matt Bilsky ’12 ’14G ’17 Ph.D. and John Ochs. (Photo: Mary Anne Lynch)


Lehigh University won the 2017 Award of Excellence in the Innovation Category at the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) annual summit held in Long Beach, Calif. in October.


UEDA’s Awards of Excellence Program recognizes organizations who are transforming their campuses into engines of economic prosperity through leading edge initiatives. Projects were judged on scalability, sustainability, impact originality and replicability.


Lehigh’s winning project is the Lehigh-KEEN Initiative. Lehigh became a partner of the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) in 2015, enabling the university to collaborate with 31 other partner institutions focused on elevating engineering education by incorporating core principles of entrepreneurial minded learning (EML).


The Lehigh-KEEN Initiative is a comprehensive, multi-phased process designed to revolutionize engineering education by integrating EML and engineering skillset development within Lehigh’s entrepreneurial education ecosystem.


KEEN focuses on student development on what they consider the KEEN 3C’s of an entrepreneurial mindset, which include curiosity, connections, and creating, social value.


The initial goal of the partnership between Lehigh and KEEN includes training of all Lehigh undergraduate engineering teaching faculty in the pedagogy of active collaborative entrepreneurial minded learning and to incorporate these teaching methods into their core engineering courses. Most importantly, the ultimate goal is to reach 100% of the engineering graduates at Lehigh, within KEEN, and across the engineering education ecosystem with entrepreneurial mindset so our students become the economic development engine for this and future generations.


John Ochs presented the Lehigh-KEEN Initiative at the UEDA summit. Ochs is a professor in Lehigh’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, founder and director of Lehigh's award-winning Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) Capstone program, director of the professional master's program (M. Eng) in Technical Entrepreneurship, associate of Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, and a KEEN Faculty Mentor.


In a follow-up session, Ochs presented his perspective on KEEN’s emphasis on entrepreneurial minded learning and the KEEN-Lehigh Initiative from his viewpoint as a faculty member. Bill Michalerya, Lehigh’s associate VP of Government Relations and Economic Development, accepted the award on behalf of Lehigh University’s Rossin College of Engineering and gave his perspective as an economic development professional. Matt Bilsky ’12 ’14G ’17 Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct professor and founder of his own startup company, Impossible Inc., presented his views from the standpoint of a student entrepreneur and as the next generation of engineering faculty. Bilsky modified the KEEN-inspired curricula he’d developed for a mechanical engineering lab course for use with Lehigh’s PreLUsion program, a pre-orientation experience for first-year students.


- Mary Anne Lynch

December 14, 2017