6 Bridging the Knowledge Gap KEEN Program Director Doug Melton on entrepreneurially minded learning from a student and faculty perspective M y introduction to engineering began during a particularly warm Kansas summer at Wichita State University. The collection of pre-freshmen met in a non-air conditioned classroom. Our assignment was to span a two-foot gap with a model balsa-wood-and-glue bridge that would support commerce between two fictitious cities. Left to our own devices, our group guessed at what design would best support the test weight. Our final product depended upon extensive truss work and dubious connections despite all the glue. My takeaway was that 45-degree trusses were the key to success. Eager to win and please the professor, we built a bridge that easily withstood the tests. In retrospect, I wish we had inquired about the changing demographics of the fictitious cities and the nature of the commerce between them. What economic model would justify the construction of a new bridge? What would be the budget? Were there other alternatives? I wonder how our engineering professor would have reacted. Would he have encouraged our curiosity – or suggested we pursue an alternate major? Perhaps he would have guided us to contextual information to make the scenario more authentic. Unfortunately, we focused only on developing “know-how” without the “know- why.” This approach characterized my entire undergraduate engineering education. Something was missing. Colleges of engineering within KEEN are redefining engineering education as the creation of value through the artful application of science and technology. These schools are fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in their engineering undergraduates. Emphasis on value creation is intrinsically connected to the “why” part of any engineering equation. Faculty members in KEEN now teach the “know-why” alongside the “know- how.” Their work is creating lasting change. Bridge construction is analogous to engineering education. Working from each side of a knowledge gap, instructor and student construct a bridge of understanding. Selection of a pedagogical approach is akin to selecting a building method. Pedagogy may build upon deeply rooted pylons of fundamentals or be suspended by connections to a project. Given the diversity of material, and students, a faculty member can be effective by taking advantage of a variety of pedagogical approaches, which lend themselves to engineering education and are often used in combination. The table below highlights well-known pedagogies, as well as one that is emergent: entrepreneurially minded learning (EML). EML can be found increasingly on campus and in literature. In an introduction to a thematic journal issue on the topic, Karim Moustaghfir and Nada Trunk Širca [2010] wrote the following regarding entrepreneurial learning: “Entrepreneurial Learning has recently emerged as a new practice involving both entrepreneurship and higher education processes. …Building on an educational case study, Rae (2009) defines entrepreneurial learning as learning to recognize and act on