by Edmond J. Dougherty, December 2021.
In honor of our KEEN Rising Star award program, we’d like you to meet three young engineering educators who care deeply about their students and our world.
The 2021 KEEN Rising Star awardees are:
Dr. Reva Johnson of Valparaiso University, Dr. Andrew Sloboda of Bucknell University, and the KEEN National Rising Star of the Year, Dr. Heath LeBlanc of Ohio Northern University.
In addition to expressing their commitment to entrepreneurially minded learning (EML) and the 3C’s (Curiosity, Connections and Creating Value), each has demonstrated their unique approaches to making the engineering classroom more welcoming, thought provoking, and socially relevant.
Get strategies and concepts from these educators who have the intelligence, character, and skill to inspire students to build a future that will be better for us all!
“Recognizing the humanity of the people that we're working with and how to better connect with them is important.”
Dr. Reva Johnson, Associate Professor of both Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering at Valparaiso University, feels that technologists must improve the way they communicate their work to the general public. Part of that is through clear technical communications. Another part is approaching the work as a team.
“A lot of my work is with clinical applications; to do any meaningful work you need to collaborate with clinicians. It’s a great situation for students to be able to have conversations with non-engineers, with clinicians and with patients."
“One of the things that invigorates me is seeing the light bulb turn on for a student. That’s why I teach. I enjoy that moment when you can see the student ‘get it,' when they have made that connection to tie two topics together."
Dr. Andrew Sloboda, Assistant Professor at Bucknell University, has a passion for Authentic Learning with his students. "Authentic Learning includes examining something meaningful in their own lives and then being able to do technical analysis on that thing. It drives student engagement and helps them learn."
“Engineers have the power to really shape society in a lot of ways by employing innovation and putting technical skills into action. I feel combining game changing creative ideas with disruptive technologies is unique to engineering. There are plenty of designers, artists, and entrepreneurs that can have great ideas, but to make those ideas reality you need engineering. That's why engineering is special. With engineering we can help society along multiple dimensions.”
Dr. Heath LeBlanc, Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Ohio Northern University, received the top award for the 2021 KEEN Rising Star.
KEEN, a partnership of engineering colleges and universities working to ensure students develop an entrepreneurial mindset, recognizes that education starts with the teachers. As part of its effort to showcase excellence in education, a KEEN award committee annually names three young faculty as KEEN Rising Stars who have gone above and beyond to equip undergraduate engineers to create personal, economic, and societal value through the entrepreneurial mindset.
To help celebrate and recognize faculty achievement, each KEEN Partner can nominate one individual with less than 10 years of experience as a faculty member for the KEEN Rising Star Award each year. The KEEN Award Committee then selects three awardees using an evaluation rubric.
The award goes to the faculty members' institutions, recognizing these individuals who have gone above and beyond to equip undergraduate engineers to create personal, economic, and societal value through the entrepreneurial mindset.