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SLU’s Parks College Awarded Prestigious KEEN Grant

Sell, Sabick and Carroll


Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology has received a new $512,226 grant from the Kern Family Foundation to provide professional development opportunities for STEM faculty to facilitate connections between engineering, math and the sciences.

The initiative, led by Dean Michelle Sabick, Ph.D., Scott Sell, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering and Chris Carroll, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering will focus on training faculty to embed concepts of entrepreneurially minded learning (EML) into foundational math and science courses.

Saint Louis University has been part of KEEN since 2009. KEEN is a partnership of undergraduate engineering programs around the United States. KEEN focuses on one mission: to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work. There are currently 45 universities and colleges working together to instill this mindset in engineering students.

EML is focused on improving students’ innate curiosity, their ability to see connections, and their focus on creating value.

Through this effort, engineering majors are exposed to EML content repeatedly throughout the four years of their curriculum. Parks’ goal is to help students develop stronger professional skills as they benefit from sustained mindset training in comparison to students who are exposed to the concepts primarily in engineering courses only in the late stages of their educations.

Faculty who participate in SLU’s STEM Teaching Institute will take part in pre-work in the form of video tutorials and general ideation on the 3Cs; workshop activities to present and solidify EML concepts, and to promote faculty engagement and content creation; and coaching for the following year on content refinement and integration strategies by faculty members with a wealth of EML integration experience.

The participating faculty members will also be eligible for Program Transformation Grants between $5,000 and $20,000. The grants support projects that have strong potential to infuse STEM programs or curricula with student-centered teaching practices and entrepreneurially minded learning.

The team’s project focuses on improving retention and preparation of engineering majors by better engaging students in their foundational STEM courses, and by creating obvious connections between those courses and engineering careers. Sabick, Sell and Carroll have all incorporated EML concepts into their classes and foundational courses developed in a 2018 pilot teaching institute hosted at Parks.

SLU faculty members including Laurie Shornick, Ph.D., of the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, also have received Program Transformation Grants.

With the grant’s support, Shornick integrated EML concepts, including value creation, into her Concepts of Immunobiology class during the 2018-2019 school year. In the pilot version of Shornick’s course, 78 STEM majors, including five engineering majors, took the class and learned EML concepts. Shornick presented on the class and its integration of EML into her work teaching immunology and virology at the KEEN National Conference in January 2019 and again at the American Association of Immunologists in May the same year.

The grant will fund development of a comprehensive EML training curriculum for faculty members and includes a follow-up grant program for STEM faculty who teach courses required in the engineering curriculum. Once finalized, the course content will be offered in a multi-day training workshop in January 2020 at SLU. The January workshop will be followed by teaching institutes offered during the summer in 2020 and 2021 for STEM faculty at all KEEN partner schools.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of now more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

About The Kern Family Foundation: The Kern Family Foundation invests in the rising generation of Americans, equipping them to become tomorrow's leaders and innovators. Established in 1999, the Foundation is a prominent, strategic foundation based in Wisconsin that invests in the rising generation of leaders. The Foundation aims to effect systemic change through partnerships to preserve the tradition of private enterprise which enables the United States to thrive intellectually and economically. Its three program areas are Education and Character, Faith, Work and Economics, and Entrepreneurial Engineering.