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Villanova among Recipients of a $2.4 Million Kern Family Foundation Grant

Funding to Support Entrepreneurialism in Engineering

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University is one of four institutions that has collectively received a three-year, $2.4 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation. The grant is in support of the Helping Hands Dense Network (HHDN), a newly formed, collaborative effort comprised of entrepreneurial engineering programs at Villanova, Baylor University, University of Dayton and University of Detroit Mercy that is designed to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students.

"The Kern Family Foundation is eager to support this joint initiative of four prestigious universities that desire to work together to change engineering education for the benefit of their engineering students," said Timothy J. Kriewall, Ph.D., Kern Family Foundation Program Director for the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN). "Their graduates will be effective team players who will be entrepreneurially minded, and who will be able to deploy technology to benefit people around the world."

The HHDN is a dense network within a system of 20 higher education institutions focused on graduating entrepreneurially minded engineers.

"We are thrilled to receive such significant, ongoing support from the Kern Family Foundation, which was instrumental in helping us launch our engineering entrepreneurship program four years ago. We're also excited to embark on new collaborative opportunities with our HHDN partners that will enhance curricula at each school," said Edmond J. Dougherty, director of Villanova's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program and a principal investigator on the grant. Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, Drosdick Endowed Dean, Villanova University College of Engineering, and Pritpal Singh, PhD, professor and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, joined Dougherty as Villanova's principal investigators on this grant.

The HHDN will focus on two initiatives. Baylor University and the University of Detroit Mercy will build programming on intrapreneurship, which will teach students how to apply the entrepreneurial spirit within existing companies. Villanova University and the University of Dayton will facilitate intercollegiate projects, which will allow students to share resources and experiences in new collaborative ways. The HHDN will create self-contained teaching tools along these two tracks that will be transferable to other schools, resulting in university cultures that value intrapreneurial engineering. Faculty from each school will offer input on both initiatives.

Specifically, Villanova's College of Engineering has been awarded $625,000 of the $2.4 million grant. The funding will allow students in the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor to have access to new intrapreneurship development and intercollegiate entrepreneurship opportunities.

For students at Villanova, the intercollegiate projects will offer a new avenue for completing senior capstone requirements. These collaborations may take one of three forms. First, student teams at more than one school may work on the same project and compare progress at regular intervals. Second, some projects may employ mixed teams of students from a variety of HHDN schools. Finally, some projects will involve students from three different institutions—with one school handling prototype design, while another team conducts the testing, and a third team fabricates the finished product.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University's Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.

About the Kern Family Foundation: In keeping with the vision of its founders Drs. Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern, the Kern Family Foundation, based in Waukesha, Wis., seeks to enrich the lives of others by promoting strong pastoral leadership, educational excellence, and high quality, innovative engineering talent.  In practice, the Foundation intentionally focuses on systemic change, rather than charities. It seeks to target funding toward broad impact, long-term programs. The Foundation's programs include a partnership with Project Lead the Way (a pre-engineering program for middle and high school students) as part of the K-12 STEM Program, the Pastoral Ministry Program, the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), the Education Reform Program, and the American History, Economics, and Religion Program.