20 J oe, a graduate from your program, has butterflies as the hiring manager leans in and asks the all-important question, “Why don’t you tell me about one of the most impactful experiences you had as an undergraduate?” And Joe, without missing a beat, looks the interviewer directly in the eye, smiles, and says, “You probably won’t believe it, but in my junior year things really clicked in my signals processing course, and that’s when I knew I made the right decision to pursue electrical engineering. My professor assigned a lab …” Will your students take their classroom experience into the job interview? One-time skeptic, Will Ebel, professor of electrical engineering at Saint Louis University, now believes that they can and should. One of the goals of the KEEN program is to transform teaching to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students, which, of course, requires faculty to first embrace KEEN concepts. Some professors are resistant, however, believing that adopting this approach could diminish rigor or reduce the time available to cover essential concepts. Ebel was one such skeptic. He questioned whether KEEN principles were suitable for his courses or worth the trouble of incorporating. “I was skeptical for two reasons,” Ebel explains. “The first was practical. As an instructor I have specific technical ideas and skills I’m trying to get across to the students. Where do I find the time to do more in the classroom? This is an important question because as technology matures and grows, there is ever-increasing pressure to bring students further along in their undergraduate education.” “At first, I viewed this as an experiment. What I found surprised me. The laboratory projects energized the students and made themmuch more interested in learning.” The second reason was the nature of electrical engineering. “Other engineering disciplines, such as mechanical and aerospace, deal with ideas that are tangible,” Ebel says. “You can touch a gear or the wing of an aircraft. You can detect heat and already have a sense of how it transfers across a metal plate because you’ve felt a hot toaster. But most areas of electrical engineering are abstract. You can’t see electricity and you can’t, or shouldn’t, touch it. In many ways, students who enter our EE program really don’t have any personal experiences to relate to it.” Despite these misgivings, Ebel kept an open mind. As he considered ways to improve his courses and teaching methods, he recalled his experience as an undergrad at the University of Classroom Conversion From skeptic to advocate, professor applies KEEN principles in signals lab