New Grant to Fund Joint Engineering/Business Initiative to Promote Entrepreneurship among Engineering Students

The Kern Family Foundation has notified Villanova that it will receive a grant of $50,000 to implement the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) initiative at Villanova. The Foundation’s goal is to help a select group of engineering colleges around the country instill an entrepreneurial mindset among engineering students.

Villanova’s successful application was based on a number of recent initiatives between the College of Engineering and the Villanova School of Business aimed at creating a systematic approach to entrepreneurial thinking. These initiatives have resulted in a pilot course this fall in project management and commercialization of technology. The course, team taught by business and engineering faculty, is open to students from every college in the University. In addition, the entire University is planning the second “Beyond Ideas – The Art of Entrepreneurship” conference for this coming January. The Beyond Ideas conference involves successful entrepreneurial alumni and is open to all students in the University. In addition, within VSB and the College of Engineering, there are a number of related programs, including VSB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Engineering’s senior capstone projects.

Going forward, the KEEN initiative will help sponsor a number of student activities involved in entrepreneurship and the development of curriculum that will lead to an interdisciplinary entrepreneurial minor in engineering taught with Engineering and VSB faculty.

Reflecting the cross-disciplinary nature of the initiative, the Principal Investigators for the KEEN initiative are Dr. Pritpal Singh, Chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. James Klingler, Director of VSB’s Center for Entrepreneurship; Dr. William Hurley, Business Fellow in VSB’s Management Department; and Edmond Dougherty, Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering and well known inventor and entrepreneur.

Noting the importance of the grant at this time, Dr, Singh said, “I have seen a steady increase in the number of students, faculty, and alumni who are interested in building this kind of program. It also comes at a time when there is strong support for entrepreneurship from the leadership of the two colleges and the University.”

Dr. Klingler noted the potential impact of the grant. “Ultimately the transformation begun in Engineering through the KEEN initiative will energize the entire campus," he said. "In its simplest terms, that is the vision – for engineering students to begin their academic careers thinking entrepreneurially, and ultimately for the whole University to be a place where all students understand entrepreneurship and have the opportunity to test themselves against its demands. Students will see that they can achieve the dream of bettering themselves and society.”