KEEN National Conference

The next conference is on January 23-25, 2025, in Austin, TX. Save the date:


The KEEN National Conference brings together hundreds of faculty, staff, and administrators annually who are interested in graduating engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset. See highlights from our most recent conference:

2024 KEEN National Conference #KNC2024

February 8-10, 2024, Austin, TX


"I've heard many inspiring experiences and stories that will definitely change my teaching approach and enhance the students' experiences at UM-Dearborn." -Rafael O. Ruiz, University of Michigan-Dearborn





Interactive Recap


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Featured Speakers


Plenary: University of Dayton and iFly Panel

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What if we could use case studies to not just teach engineering principles, but to awaken an entrepreneurial mindset in our students?

Imagine a curriculum where case studies are more than technical dissections. Instead, they're narratives of real-world opportunities, designed to inspire and engage.

In this journey of educational transformation, the University of Dayton faculty and iFly, with its state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnels, are leading the way. They've embraced case studies as a powerful method to not only impart knowledge but also inspire innovation and value creation.

This dynamic session explored how these vibrant case studies are revolutionizing the way we teach and how they're molding the innovative engineers of tomorrow.


Plenary: Engineering Alumni

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As educators, you play a critical role in shaping the entrepreneurial mindset in your students.

While pursuing her Masters in Industrial Design, Cheyenne Raker (Georgia Institute of Technology '21, Masters; Ohio Northern University '18) found her passion for the toy and game industry. With her background in both engineering and industrial design, she launched DesignByChey, her freelance business as a toy and game inventor. 

George Valcarcel (The Ohio State University '20) is the Manager of Business Development at AURA Network Systems, which is building an FAA-compliant network utilizing licensed aviation spectrum to accelerate advanced levels of autonomy in controlled national airspace. Previously, George was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, and was part of McKinsey’s Future Air Mobility hub. 

Cheyenne's story illustrates the power of moments and how faculty can inspire an unexpected career path. George's path showcases how a nurturing academic environment can fuel curiosity and entrepreneurial ambition. Together, they embody the entrepreneurial mindset we strive to instill in our students.


Keynote: Dr. Sharon Walker

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Through her role in the ELATES program (Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science) and beyond, Dr. Walker (Dean, College of Engineering at Drexel University) has been instrumental in integrating innovative thinking with technical expertise, preparing a new wave of leaders for the evolving landscape of STEM.

In her session, Dr. Walker shared her insights, championing a vision where educators and students alike embrace an entrepreneurial mindset - not just in theory, but as a practice that shapes the very fabric of engineering education.





What Did Attendees Find Most Valuiable?


"Learning new tools and ideas while networking with a diverse group of peers who are all excited about enabled the next generation of engineers." -James Swisher, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

"I’m feeling inspired and motivated to bring back new ideas and insights to MSOE CAECM Department. As a proud KEEN partner, my goal is to create exceptional learning experiences that foster an entrepreneurial mindset in our students. Here's to an exciting future of inspiring the next generation of Milwaukee School of Engineering graduates!" - Dr. DeAnna Leitzke, MSOE

"The stories of student ingenuity that folks shared from Makerspaces across the country were nothing short of astounding. The skills students acquire, the accomplishments they achieve, and the collaborative communities they construct in these spaces are - in my mind - key to a future vision of higher education that inculcates creative flames in tandem with hands-on practical expertise." -Dr. Gordon Maples, The Odum Institute for Research in Social Science

"Actionable ideas and new connections with other faculty. There were several great ideas and engaged fun delivery in the Sustainability session. I will immediately use tools from Story Narratives in my advising sessions. I led the Develop A Mindset of Learning from Failure with Mastery-based Learning session and had a blast, the audience engagement was fantastic!" -Kurt DeGoede, Elizabethtown College

"For each workshop session, I walked away with something concrete that I could immediately implement in my classes!" -Richard Goldberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"These conferences are just amazing at building connections. I get a ton out of the people. Thank you for doing this right. I enjoyed meeting lots of new people and having so many choices for sessions." -Tim Doughty, University of Portland