Local Funding Opportunities Help Attract Students

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.
- Scott Molitor, University of Toledo

University of Toledo

COFFEE with KEEN: Local Funding Opportunities Help Attract Students and Sustain Entrepreneurially Minded Learning

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.

COF Scholar Showcase, February 2020

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.

Scott Molitor

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.”

Norman Rapino

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.

Meet the Authors

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.
Scott Molitor

Scott Molitor, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, The University of Toledo

Scott earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and is currently a Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Toledo College of Engineering. His current interests are in the field of science and engineering education and include the preparation of high school and first year college students to study engineering mathematics, training PK-3 teachers to deliver science and engineering instruction based on the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education, and research into the impact of teacher professional development on teaching practice and student outcomes.
Norman Rapino

Norman Rapino, Executive Director Rocket Innovations, The University of Toledo

After lots of years as a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and mentor, Norman is now the Executive Director of Rocket Innovations at the University of Toledo. He loves to help students, faculty and others in the community become innovators, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs so they can build personally satisfying careers as they move ideas out into the world, to solve problems and meet societal needs. He also manages a $10M Venture Capital Fund that invests in tech based ventures.

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