B uilding upon its success in engaging students with industry, Kettering faculty created an interactive workshop bringing academia and industry together to explore the concept and practice of intrapreneurship. Entitled “Unleashing the Intrapreneur,” and sponsored by The Kern Family Foundation, the day-long program gave students, faculty, and industry representatives the opportunity to discuss, share, and learn about different facets of the topic frommultiple perspectives. “The goal of the conference was to provide industry leaders an opportunity to evaluate how we are preparing our students with a mindset and skillset to be intrapreneurial,” says Dr. Patrick Atkinson, professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering. “These skills will help students be effective agents who know how to align their ideas and efforts with the corporate strategy. From the moment our graduates leave campus to work in industry, we want them to actively engage with an entrepreneurial mindset to meet the needs of their employers and customers in addition to providing their technical expertise.” Kettering’s engineering curriculum embeds intrapreneurship in a sequence of courses called Innovation-to- Entrepreneurship (I2E), a comprehensive multi-disciplinary elective program open to all students in the university. “Our students learn the ideas and fundamentals of intrapreneurship from their freshman through senior year,” Atkinson explains. “They put that into practice at their co- operative jobs as they alternate between three-month work and school terms. This helps them develop technical engineering skills coupled with an entrepreneurial mindset.” “We want to receive input from the companies that employ our students,” Atkinson says. “Kettering seeks to create talent which is highly sought after by industry, so we wanted to know if our students are fulfilling those goals outside the classroom. This workshop was a ‘moment of truth’ for us.” Industry participants were carefully selected fromKettering’s portfolio of cooperative education partners. Because of Kettering’s location, many of those companies are in the automotive sector, but conference organizers created a diverse mix including representatives from healthcare, information technology, veterinary services, and the consumer market. The day’s program consisted of several activities, including an exercise pitting teams of industry, faculty, and student representatives against each other. Each teamwas given a product and a company’s mission and vision statements, and the task was to revise the product to correspond to the company’s goals using the KEEN 3C’s model (curiosity, connections, and creating value). For Kettering students and faculty, the 3C’s are a familiar paradigm, and industry participants quickly embraced it. At the end, each group presented its proposal and voted for a winning presentation. Industry keynote speakers also added context from their experiences to the conference. Deborah Ermiger, executive director of IT Employee Experience Strategic Programs at Hewlett-Packard (HP), shared how she practices intrapreneurship within a large corporation. Matthew Cheng, CEO of Towel Tracker LLC, by contrast, described his path and lessons learned from his former position at a large consulting firm to guiding a startup. A networking lunch was followed by short presentations from three Kettering students and two alumni. They shared how the entrepreneurial mindset and the 3C’s apply to their school and work lives. Student Cheyne Westerman’s presentation highlighted how his curiosity and intent to make connections have resulted in a potential high value market for his employer, Kautex Textron. “One of the ways I continue to learn is by reading our corporate communications,” he says. “Every week, Textron sends out a company newsletter highlighting emerging markets, performance matrices, or new innovations within its different business units. While reading, I learned that Textron Aviation (which produces Cessna and Beechcraft) is currently capitalizing on a market expansion in China. While this is a great opportunity for Textron Aviation, I thought to myself, ‘Is there any way Kautex could benefit from that as well?’” One of Kautex’s specialties is developing plastic fuel systems, primarily for the automotive industry. Westerman began thinking about the feasibility of providing fuel system expertise to sister companies Cessna and Beechcraft, including expertise on sustainability efforts. “Upon deeper thought, what seemed like a simple idea quickly became complicated,” he says, due to a variety of challenges. “One thing was certain — a very large amount of research and development would be needed for a project of this scope.” So where would value be created? “Obviously, if there was a way to share technologies or capabilities between companies, there might be tremendous opportunity for Textron Aviation and Textron as a whole,” he notes. “If Kautex was able to provide fuel system solutions or integration ideas in terms of fuel lines or finding ways to reduce carbon-dioxide output, this could be a significant competitive advantage. I’m currently researching the specifications required for aircraft to determine if collaboration with our sister companies is truly feasible and if it aligns with Kautex’s company vision, objectives, and future plans.” Westerman’s application of the 3C’s exemplifies the concept of intrapreneurship, according to Doug Melton, KEEN program director. “Cheyne saw a potential opportunity and investigated it,” he says. “Who knows if his insights will yield new business, but every enterprise needs intrapreneurs who seek opportunity within the mission of the parent company.” The workshop concluded with a survey of industry participants, who were asked to assess intrapreneurship within their own organizations. The results were shared and discussed, yielding additional insights on how different companies compare and can improve on current practices. Was the day focused on intrapreneurship important to the companies and other participants? The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, Atkinson says. “Written comments showed that the pace, mix of team activities, personal presentations, and lectures all provided a value-added experience for industry participants. I recommend that other schools also consider hosting KEEN-related conferences to engage the companies that hire their students.” WESTERMAN 31 30 BRINGING INDUSTRYAND ACADEMIA TOGETHER!