26 A Model for Engineering and Enterprise Chris Kitts gives “droning professor” a whole newmeaning E ngineering faculty members are by nature passionate about the technical aspects of their discipline. But it’s not always easy to develop that technical knowledge while at the same time helping students broaden their understanding of other success factors needed in their role as engineers. How does a faculty member use technical topics to inspire and develop an entrepreneurial mindset in students? Business models and real-world experiences are part of the equation, according to Chris Kitts, associate dean of engineering at Santa Clara University (SCU) in California. Kitts has led the integration of the entrepreneurial mindset on SCU’s campus, providing students with real-world experiential education in the form of competitive professional engineering services to paying customers. “Conventional engineering degrees often don’t cover topics that are essential or that benefit graduates, companies, and the U.S. economy,” Kitts observes. “The two areas that engineering programs don’t truly emphasize are business acumen and deep customer understanding.” Kitts believes the entrepreneurial mindset is most effectively taught – both inside and outside of the classroom – through the exploration of leading- edge technology and the real-world issues that engineers must consider when these technologies disrupt the status quo. “I’m most excited at the teaching opportunities that arise when emerging technologies provide complex challenges for businesses and market applications,” Kitts explains. Kitts directs the SCU Robotics Systems Laboratory (RSL), which has established its reputation with space and sea robotics technologies, even earning a nod from the National Academy of Engineering as an exemplar for including entrepreneurship into the student experience. The latest emerging market Kitts is incorporating in his teaching is that of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as UAVs or drones. “UAVs are exploding as a market, and students are incredibly excited to do anything with them,” Kitts says. “Getting them involved with the technology is easy. So the opportunity to complement their technical interest with ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ topics is incredible – we want them to help find the customers, the products and services, and the markets.”