KEEN Rising Stars

2019 Edition

As an engineer myself, I particularly admire faculty at institutions of higher learning who are helping engineering students through entrepreneurially minded learning (EML). The efforts of those instructors and professors will produce generations of engineers who don’t just understand theory, but who have learned to efficiently practice their art; who know how to add true value to their work; who understand and direct their efforts toward advancing our society.
- Edmond J. Dougherty, Villanova University

The 2019 KEEN Rising Stars

by Edmond J. Dougherty, May 2020. This article was published in ASEE PRISM, May 2020. Reprinted with permission.

I’m still not sure when or why my Mom threw out my hundreds of baseball cards. They are long gone, though the pleasant memories the cards gave me are still with me. As a kid, I’d trade the cards with my friends; gamble them in card toss competitions; and spread them out on the table to manage my own imaginary league. I never collected the cards as investments, I collected them because I loved baseball and really enjoyed getting to know the players and their statistics.

Originating in the late 1800’s and still going strong today, baseball trading cards have always been popular. But baseball was not the only theme for trading cards, through the years almost everyone and everything we admired as a culture were memorialized as trading cards: sports figures, presidents, travel locations, cartoon characters, and movie stars. Outside of sports, one of the more popular themes for trading cards was rock stars.

In 1957, trading cards featuring Mercury Records’ doo wop group The Diamonds hit the market. 

Hey, come on, you know The Diamonds – they covered Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers's song, "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" 

Soon after, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Kinks and even Bob Dylan appeared on cards. My wife still has hundreds of Beatles cards.

Rock Star Trading Cards

Today, the people I admire the most are the educators, those who are working hard to guide the next generation of leaders, engineers and scientists. As an engineer myself, I particularly admire faculty at institutions of higher learning who are helping engineering students through entrepreneurially minded learning (EML). The efforts of those instructors and professors will produce generations of engineers who don’t just understand theory, but who have learned to efficiently practice their art; who know how to add true value to their work; who understand and direct their efforts toward advancing our society.

While there may never be a collectable rookie trading card for your favorite Thermodynamics professor, guess what? The Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and Engineering Unleashed have created something even better.

What's in a Card? 

The Engineering Unleashed platform contains thousands of resources, aka cards. The cards describe the background and contact information for faculty “rock stars” from nearly 50 KEEN Partner schools, as well as thousands of faculty members from more than 250 institutions. What a collection!

Engineering, ethics, climate change, geoengineering

Cards also provide many of their greatest hits – lesson plans, classroom exercises, lecture videos, case studies, workshops and entire courses, all freely available to download and use. 

Faculty are free to mix-and-match the materials, personalize content, and use it in the classroom as they wish. 

Faculty are also encouraged to create their own Engineering Unleashed cards (such as the one in the image), and become KEEN rock stars of education!

KEEN actually takes the rock star analogy very seriously. Each year, through a committee of engineering leaders and a nomination process, KEEN has rock-and-roll themed awards for its “rising stars,” junior faculty who elevate themselves as educators with extraordinary impact on their students and colleagues. The national winner is even awarded a KEEN-themed electric guitar.

KEEN Rising Star Award banner

Who's Ready to Rock?

This year’s national KEEN Rising Star awardee is Amy Trowbridge of Arizona State University (ASU). She joins two additional KEEN Rising Star awardees – Dr. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Dr. Justin Henriques of James Madison University (JMU). Below is a brief introduction to each, worthy of the back of their trading cards.

Amy Trowbridge

“In my teaching methods, I incorporate active and collaborative learning. EML is all about letting the students explore open ended problems; encouraging them to be curious, to make connections with the context of problems, and to focus on doing something for societal benefit.”

Senior Lecturer Amy Trowbridge thinks big. 

From school size to technical challenges, she does not shy away. At Arizona State University (ASU), with its student engineering population of over 23,000, she has been the Director of ASU’s National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) since 2014.

Amy Trowbridge

“GCSP is preparing engineers who identify opportunities and utilize a broad skill set and perspective to develop solutions to societal problems that help people and improve lives,” Amy says. 

“Students need to have an entrepreneurial mindset in order to identify those opportunities and make connections between culture, policy and other societal factors to develop solutions that create real value for society. Once I recognized this synergy, I found ways to further enhance entrepreneurial mindset development in my GCSP students.”

As a big thinker, Amy doesn’t keep all she’s learned to herself and her home institution. She actively shares her successful strategies; at KEEN National Conferences, NAE GCSP Annual Meetings, and ASEE Annual Conferences. Many of Amy’s teaching methods and materials are published as several very detailed and useful Engineering Unleashed cards. 

  • In the card Sustainable Design: Shipping Containers, students are asked to build a sustainable intermodal shipping container to meet the needs of a customer. Students prototype their designs using recyclable materials and present their designs and value propositions to the class. 
  • In the card, Revitalizing ‘A’ Mountain: Customer- focused Design Challenge, students apply the Engineering Design Process to design methods to improve the societal and commercial value of a local mountain. Students combine information gained from interaction with stakeholders, use brainstorming techniques to generate design alternatives, and employ a decision matrix to select a design solution to recommend to the stakeholders. 

The published cards provide all that is needed for other faculty to immediately adapt these exercises into their classes.

In addition to classroom exercises, Amy has published detailed material on entire courses and workshops related to the Grand Challenges. This extensive material can be used to train faculty and inspire students to create their own GCSP designs, proposals and classroom exercises.

Amy is committed to creating opportunities that will enable students to explore, learn and continue their development as engineers within and outside the classroom as they tackle society’s most significant challenges. 

Sounds like a big job, but there is no doubt that this Rising Star will continue guiding students and colleagues in solving the Grand Challenges and improving engineering education for decades to come.

Amy Trowbridge

Hear from Amy in her showcase video!

Amy was the first member of the team to revamp the freshman year and hire new faculty to do that. She credits learning from others and working with the other lecturers on her team to help develop their styles and skills. 

Sarah Wodin-Schwartz 

“If I wanted an exercise to teach a concept in the classroom, it used to be ‘how can I develop something to make that happen?’ With Engineering Unleashed I have a place that I can go to see what other people are doing in this area, and I can find some examples of techniques that have worked. I can use something directly, or I can take it and tweak it to make it my own. It is great having that repository of ideas that are out there.”

Born in rustic Western Massachusetts, Sarah Wodin-Schwartz spent much of her adventurous youth exploring the woods, kayaking on rivers and gliding down ski slopes. Through these outdoor activities she developed a great love and respect for the earth and all of its marvels. 

Being a curious observer, her many adventures taught Sarah a great deal about math and physics, and the practical application of their principles. Conquering the height of trees by learning the advantages of ropes and pulleys. Making split second decisions while kayaking–should she avoid the menacing jagged black rock or slide her kayak over it to jump a dangerous hole in the river’s whitewater rapids? In skiing she learned to control her downslope velocity by sensing the changing frictional resistance of the snow; with her turns she’d make adjustments in balance and ski edge angle.

Sarah Wodin-Schwartz

Most people would think she was honing her instincts through repetition of activities, but Sarah realized she was also developing a natural understanding of engineering beyond instinct. She wondered if others could learn in the same way. 

Over time she developed the belief that the best way to educate, especially for engineers, is to blend lectures and textbooks with hands-on experiences.

Today, as an Assistant Teaching Professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Sarah embraces KEEN’s emphasis on experiential learning and the three C’s (Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value). Through campus colleagues and an Integrating Curriculum with Entrepreneurial Mindset workshop, she learned of KEEN’s framework and the Network's many resources. 

With hands-on activities, she says: “I can actually see the students learn. Walking around seeing all of the different ways the students are learning content in small groups. How things (in my Statics course for example) balance and work. I can actually see them make the connection between the problems they were looking at on paper and how it works in real life. That’s exciting.”

In one project, Sarah brought 3D particle equilibrium to life by connecting it with the social and financial impacts of developing infrastructure for a remote community. 

“Helping students understand that the world is bigger than the campus, [helps them reach] beyond what they think is possible. While they work on a problem right in front of them, they begin to make the connection that there’s a challenge people in another country are facing and we might be able to work with them to help. We live in a great country, but we are also part of a great world. And what we are learning can have great and lasting impact.”

Sarah reports she still has her adventures in nature. For example, “I recently went on a few trips down the Grand Canyon. One was the hottest I’ve ever felt, 126 degrees, and the other the coldest, with a rare snowfall in the base of the Canyon.” 

It will be interesting to see how Sarah might bring those experiences into the classroom.

Sarah Wodin-Schwartz

Justin Henriques 

“Giving students agency, empowering them, giving them knowledge and tools, mindset, the three C’s. Those are all things that are rich and fertile ground for amazing things in the future.”

Justin Henriques is an Associate Professor of Engineering at James Madison University (JMU). His teaching focus is on active learning of the entrepreneurial mindset, especially as it relates to creating useful sustainable and humanitarian technologies. Though he has been on the faculty for only eight years, his CV is packed with scores of publications, presentations, fellowships, awards, and student projects.

Four of Justin’s five degrees are engineering related, but the fifth is Philosophy. Justin explains: “Both philosophy and engineering wrestle with complicated systems level challenges. In addition, a branch of philosophy is ethics, and there are overlays especially in decision making. In philosophy you are always trying to run thought experiments, to plan how to get to the logical conclusion to your argument. In sustainability you’re doing the same thing where you’re trying to reconcile complexities that exist inherently, in coming up with solutions that might be sustainable.”

Justin Henriques

"Before each class, I am thinking — How do I maximize students’ engagement with each other? I think the real benefit of higher ed is where you’re meeting in person, the opportunity that students get engaged with one another connects downstream to their professional careers. 

"I’m also thinking of what I’m planning on doing beyond a lecture, such as active based learning and EML. 

"Then there’s a third thing, the opportunity for the students to practice something around mindsets or skillsets. In this way, every part of the lecture is getting that level of review before each class.”

But students aren’t always in class; so Justin and his colleagues developed a toolkit for cultivating the entrepreneurial mindset through co-curricular experiences. The toolkit emphasizes that for faculty to reach students deeply they must provide EML co-curricular activities and events to help students no matter where they may be. 

“I remember when I was first exposed to KEEN, about 2014, I was excited because it codified many things and in a simple way. This idea of the value and importance of an entrepreneurial mindset. And the simple elegance of the three C’s – Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value. I have been constantly inspired by the amazing things that people from across KEEN are doing. I’m often borrowing, using and sharing material from Engineering Unleashed.”

Justin has also served as an Engineering Unleashed Community Catalyst, constantly bringing others together and always searching for peer collaborations to help provide more impactful experiences for engineering students at JMU and across the country. 

Perhaps you will collaborate with Justin and others to imagine engineering education in 2030 and beyond!

Justin Henriques
KEEN National Conference 2020 Rising Stars

Learn more about the KEEN Rising Star award and meet other recipients.

Associated Content

Revitalizing 'A' Mountain

Revitalizing A Mountain: Customer-Focused Design Challenge

Use a local landmark to introduce students to the engineering design process! Start with an ambiguous problem statement: To "revitalize 'A' mountain." Over the course of two weeks, student teams work through all steps of the design process to create a conceptual solution while applying design tools such as the decision matrix, Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), and brainstorming techniques.
Flying Forces

Flying Forces

If you want your students to see an even bigger picture and connect with the course content, this EML is for you! In this project, students are calculating tensions in cables used to hold a floating wind turbine in a given location. The basic underlying fundamental skill is 3D particle equilibrium, but the project is designed to give students the opportunity to solve a technical challenge that is directly linked to social and financial factors.
Co-Curricular Experiences

A Toolkit for Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset Through Co-Curricular Experiences

Co-curriculars offer a rich and vital landscape for engineering education! Yet due to the bootstrapped nature of many of these efforts, outcomes can be unknown, resources inefficiently deployed, sustainability uncertain, and synergies unexplored. This workshop provides a toolkit for analyzing your co-curricular entrepreneurially-minded learning (EML) landscape, uncover gaps, identify opportunities, and prioritize future efforts for high-impact returns on investment.

Meet the Author

Edmond Dougherty

Edmond Dougherty, Retired Professor of Practice and Director Engineering Entrepreneurship, Villanova University

Edmond has many years of experience in the design, development, and management of complex electronic and software systems. He was part of a team that helped develop the Emmy and Academy Award winning Skycam, an aerial robotic control camera system. He also developed an aerial camera system called Wavecam that is now owned by Skycam. He has 13 US patents. He was awarded the IEEE Member Award for the Philadelphia area, and the Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence (ICE) Award at Villanova University.

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