The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education

Monday, Feb 27, 2012

Educating leaders for a technology-driven society

From smartphones to clean drinking water, technology has the power to improve people's lives. In our increasingly technology-driven world, engineering has emerged as an essential part of the education of future leaders.

The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education combines education with experiential learning and entrepreneurial opportunities to ready Princeton students from all disciplines for leadership roles in the 21st century.

Established in 2005, the Center addresses the need for students to complement their classroom education with exposure to real-world engineering problems. Located within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Keller Center provides students with opportunities to solve problems in an interdisciplinary fashion and hone their engineering knowledge through work in the community.

In 2010-2011, students in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) class developed a novel wind-harnessing system that could be transported in a standard shipping container and rapidly set-up in post-disaster Haiti.The Center also engages students outside of engineering by offering courses and programs designed to broaden their exposure to technology and entrepreneurship. These include classes such as Technology and Society and Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS).

Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the Keller Center's mission. The Center offers funding for student projects outside the classroom, giving students the opportunity to put their classroom education into practice. The Center also manages three distinct internship programs, the Preparing to Lead Program, The International Research Exchange Program and the Princeton Entrepreneurial Internship Program.

A panel discussion on Women in Entrepreneurship included alumni and other entrepreneurs and business leaders, along with Alexandra Landon (above), a senior who is co-president of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club. Photo by Brian Wilson.Entrepreneurship is a major focus for the Keller Center. The Center offers courses, a lecture and workshop series, and the annual Innovation Forum. The forum offers University participants the opportunity to give a 3-minute "elevator pitch" to a panel of judges about research with potential for commercialization. This signature event is followed by a poster session and networking reception open to Princeton students, faculty and the broader entrepreneurial community.

Events and lectures bring students together with leaders who share their experiences in entrepreneurship. Panel discussions include topics such as Women in Entrepreneurship and Celebrating Entrepreneurship While Acknowledging its Costs. Through the Leadership Dialogue series, the Center brings successful business and technology leaders to campus to share their experiences with the campus community.

"The solutions to the most pressing problems facing our world today are grounded in technology," said Sanjeev Kulkarni, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Keller Center. "We are educating students across all disciplines to be leaders capable of using technology and engineering to address society's future needs."