Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
From its founding, Olin was intended to be different. It was created to experiment and reshape engineering education away from the traditional model that only focused on technical skill and theoretical approaches.

Understanding engineers as those who shape modern society, the goal was an education that was joyful, people centered, project based, interdisciplinary, and technically excellent. From these experiments and successes, Olin was to share what it was learning to transform engineering education across America and worldwide. Part of this transformation included the introduction of the “entrepreneurial mindset” (EM), which is fundamental to Olin’s student-centered approach to teaching and learning. This meant that Olin was already working towards graduating entrepreneurially minded engineers who would create value for others prior to joining KEEN.

Why We're In KEEN
Olin’s mission as an innovator in engineering education is enhanced through its KEEN partnership. In some ways KEEN is an additional platform for Olin to share its entrepreneurial approaches and new ideas.

At the same time, Network partnership has shaped and informed Olin’s Summer Institute and other faculty development programs it offers and also influenced its consulting activities with institutions embarking on transformative culture change initiatives.

Though its faculty is small in number, Olin’s KEEN leaders put thought and creativity into faculty engagement with the broader network community.

Olin’s approach and alignment with KEEN are exemplified in its curriculum. As part of their engineering education, Olin students select a year-long capstone experience to apply what they’ve learned to real-world problems. One of the options is the Technology Venture Capstone (TVC), a small, highly personalized course that helps burgeoning entrepreneurs develop their big ideas. Using faculty expertise and the involvement of industry mentors, TVC methodically walks students through many of the same processes as real-world startups.

The course incorporates both engineering and business principles, such as market segmentation, understanding pain points, and the value of a solution. Learn more about TVC.

Current Work
Olin is currently working towards transforming its community toward the goals of Impact-Centered Education and Engineering for Everyone. These are outlined further in the college's 2022-2027 Strategic Plan.

Engineering for Everyone has two embedded meanings. First, it means engineering education needs to be for everyone. Today the NSF calls for broadening participation because engineering education systematically excludes large groups of people, to the detriment of individuals, societies, and economies. To address this challenge, engineering education needs to be welcoming to, and enable the success of, people from all backgrounds. This work entails creating value in impact-centered education for a diverse range of students, and our faculty conduct a wide range of research to this goal, including topics such as how educators initiate, negotiate, and sustain educational change processes, how engineers reason about variability, and how engineering students and practitioners develop software in their own disciplines.

Engineering for Everyone also means that engineering as a profession must serve everyone. We need to go beyond a disciplinary perspective of engineering, and beyond the definition of engineering as “using science to solve technical problems.” Engineers need to work across disciplinary boundaries, being curious about questions that include not only “How might we build it?,” but also “Who is it for?,” “Why are we building it?,” “Who else is impacted?” and “Should we build it at all?”—and to develop the disciplinary humility necessary to recognize the limits of engineering and to collaborate with experts in other fields. Engineering education must not only focus on producing good workers, but also on developing good people and good citizens that create value through their work. Our faculty are implementing these efforts through research on topics such as community-centered air quality assessment and interventions, civically-engaged collaborative data science on mass incarceration, and exploring the intersections of developing technologies and our own campus's sustainability.

Our featured video highlights our course Collaborative Design (CD), formerly known as User-Oriented Collaborative Design (UOCD). In CD, our focus is on user-oriented, collaborative approaches to design and seeking holistic solutions to problems by integrating user and functional perspectives. We emphasize the importance of process and the development of strategies.

Students immerse themselves in their curiosity as they observe and engage people to develop a deep understanding of their values and the patterns of their lives, and then make connections and develop detailed concepts and models of authentic new products and services. They work collaboratively in a studio environment to generate a shared understanding of the people they design for (and with) and create value with the product ideas they develop. Topics covered include design thinking, ethnographic methods, concept development and interaction design.

Featured Cards
Our featured cards show work that our faculty have done as part of Engineering Unleashed Faculty Development workshops and other collaborations with KEEN.

For many, entrepreneurship is seen as a separate concept from engineering, or maybe something that is relevant only to a specific subset. Fundamentally, we are trying to encourage students to mush those concepts together through the understanding that every engineer needs to have some appreciation for and insight into how people will be able to access and benefit from their big ideas.

--Lawrence Neeley, Associate Professor of Design and Entrepreneurship
Stephanos (Steve) Matsumoto
published a card
I reflect on efforts to adopt techniques from the EIT Workshop in my computing courses - what worked, what didn't, and why.

Amy Trowbridge 3 others  
published a card
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