Change Makers: KEEN Professorships

Change Makers: KEEN Professorships

"The KEEN Professorship is integral to our work of evangelizing EM curricular integration into a variety of courses as well as impacting change at scale with Fulton Schools of Engineering." 

--Layla Reitmeier, Project Manager,  ASU KEEN Team

Integration goals

Provide financial awards to engineering faculty to develop, implement, and disseminate Entrepreneurial Mindset (EM) content within their courses so that EM is integrated into a broad range of engineering courses reaching a variety of students, impacting subsequent course iterations, as well as evangelizing students and other faculty and instructors

Materials affected

Meeting agendas, marketing materials, website pages, application packet, call for proposals, evaluation rubric, notice of funding/non-funding, awardee budget expenditures guidelines, tracking documents, inter-department expenditure guidelines, and orientation and reflection event materials

Lessons learned

A program like this will quickly gain in popularity and the applications will become more competitive each semester. By opening the opportunity to all engineering disciplines and course levels, creative and diverse proposals will be submitted, resulting in EM integration via a  range of engineering classes. Additionally, having a sound matrix for the application evaluation as well as a review committee will formalize the process and, finally, it’s important to establish expenditure guidelines and an approval process before awarding faculty. Finally, having one person as the “face of the program” will ensure consistency and reliability for faculty.


The KEEN Professorship presents the opportunity to bring traditionally trained faculty into the EM community of practice, where they feel empowered to own this pedagogy. Preference was given to proposals that leverage and connect to other initiatives related to entrepreneurial thinking, advancing educational innovations, or having impact at scale. The KEEN Professorship has been offered four semesters, with each successive opportunity eliciting a larger pool of applicants.  In the first semester, applicants were from one of Fulton’s six schools, plus Academic and Student Affairs (ASA); by the final semester, awardees represented three additional schools.

The marketing strategy introducing the KEEN Professorship leveraged the “Fulton Difference,” the engineering schools’ aspirational goal that pledges to ensure student success, provide experiential learning opportunities, inspire future engineers, and innovate solutions to challenges in areas like energy and security. In fact, the KEEN Professorship was introduced as a way to implement the “Fulton Difference” concepts.  Creating faculty awareness entailed marketing efforts through flyers, articles in electronic engineering newsletters, and connecting with faculty engaged in entrepreneurial or similar research.

The KEEN Professorship was intended to stimulate an array of interventions creating awareness of and action focused on EM/3C’s pedagogy to achieve the change of EM curricular integration at scale, specifically with goal of reaching 20,000 students (FSE enrollment). Pedagogy that integrates EM is important to student success as it provides a toolset they can leverage in other classes and in the future workplace. It is also important to the faculty and instructors who receive the awards, as the KEEN Professors form a community of practice that supports them through the EM integration effort and rolling out their new approach to teaching.   

Once granted an award, KEEN Professors are connected to other FSE faculty and staff   working to initiate EM, as well as the larger national KEEN. Through emails they are provided updates, workshop information, calls for papers, and conference or other opportunities. For example, KEEN Professors are invited to extra-curricular activities such as a design challenge to serve as a mentor or judge, to lead an EM activity at the incoming freshman E2 camp, or to apply for a KEEN developed workshop.

Integration details

A summary of the effort’s key milestones follows:

  • Prior to the rollout, we created documentation to support the program. Examples include an application package, a webpage, marketing material, scoring rubric, award and non-award templates notifications, faculty expenditure guidelines, interdepartmental expenditure guidelines, and an expenditure tracking template.  
  • Also prior to the rollout, we designed a business process for the KEEN Professors to provide expedited, seamless service. We also designed a business process to support the inter-departmental business staff working with the project manager and administrative assistant. This effort included hiring student workers to assist the KEEN Professors. 
  • Throughout the program, we cultivated a community of practice for faculty who value quality teaching, impactful research, and instilling a collaborative and entrepreneurial mindset. 
  • Numerous KEEN professors presented posters on their work outside of ASU, were accepted to present at national conferences highlighting their EM integration, and/or published papers. Several KEEN Professors enrolled in KEEN-sponsored workshops. 
  • During the later semesters of the four-semester program, the KEEN Professors and their students participated in a project-wide EM evaluation. Each year the faculty also participated in a reflection workshop to culminate the experience. 

Several factors contributed to the success of the KEEN Professorships. First, the proposal process was open to all engineering courses, which resulted in faculty proposing EM integration for classes they enjoyed teaching and whose pedagogy they felt passionate about improving for an enriched student experience. Second, the work of the KEEN Professors impacted diverse classes, from 100- to 400-level courses, and from required to elective courses. That EM integration could be done in diverse classes ignited the curiosity of other faculty and inspired faculty from numerous engineering disciplines to apply in subsequent offerings. 

Leadership and key staff built a program foundation together. The leadership team served as the review committee, provided input on the application and marketing materials, connected with engineering school directors to create awareness and encourage faculty participation, and participated in the Reflection and Analysis Retreat. The project manager administered the KEEN Professor Mini-Grants, from the starting point of creating program documentation, collecting and organizing the applications, serving on the review committee to the program point of contact in the post-award stage. Having one person as the “face of the program” ensured consistency and reliability for faculty, each of whom had different proposals with varying plans of action and budgets. 

The workflow of this EM integration effort can be summarized as follows:

  • Decide goals, objectives and vision of the program
  • Develop application, budget document, and proposal evaluation rubric
  • Set up and promote the program’s webpage
  • Devise additional marketing strategies 
  • Assemble review committee and create notification process
  • Put out the call for proposals
  • Devise intra-program expenditure administration process 
  • Devise inter-departmental expenditure administration process
  • Review and score proposals 
  • Notify applicants of award/non-award status
  • Welcome recipients, provide orientation and process training
  • Develop post-award administration process and offer assistance to awardees
  • Track budget and expenditure approvals 
  • Debrief participants

NOTE: Supporting resources for this case study can be found within its companion KEEN card (link below), which is also where the community can discuss the case and its broader topic.

Integration outcomes

Throughout the two-year duration, 38 faculty members were awarded KEEN Professor Mini-grants representing four schools of engineering plus ASA. Data compilation is in progress to calculate the number of students impacted over the four semesters. The project-wide evaluation surveyed students and faculty in EM-related courses regarding their perception of EM; this effort includes KEEN Professors and their students. EM integration methodology in courses that received KEEN Professor Mini-grant funding will be continued, as course budgets allow. KEEN Professors in the first and second cohorts participated in training for new awardees. In addition, KEEN Professors have served as informal resources for faculty interested in learning about EM integration into the classroom. 

Future plans

The KEEN Professor Mini-grant provided engineering faculty the opportunity to develop, implement, and disseminate Entrepreneurial Mindset (EM) content within their courses. As a result, a core of “ground troops” have contributed to the evangelization of EM within FSE and generated interest from faculty in learning EM pedagogy. Building on this momentum, the next phase of wide-scale EM integration within all Fulton Schools of Engineering will offer    workshops for new and current faculty on pedagogy that supports EM integration and an active learning approach. Select faculty will receive compensation for attending the four workshops, integrating EM into a course instructional material as well as participate in the project-wide evaluation efforts. Each of the six schools as well as ASA will have a master mentor to provide support. 


The KEEN Professor Mini-Grants appeals to early adopters and faculty interested in learning new teaching methodology. The grants are one strategy to disseminate curricular EM integration and impact a large number of students. The EM integration in KEEN Professorship courses is an accompaniment to integration efforts in required classes and elective courses. This configuration provides multiple touchpoints for students to be exposed to and experience EM curricular integration. Gearing up for implementing a faculty mini-grant program entails staff support and the contributions of a leadership team. A point of contact person is essential to support the faculty in the post-administration phase.  Other key roles involved in ASU’s effort included the following: 

  • Project manager
  • Faculty
  • Administrative assistant
  • Committee members 
  • Business support team

One challenge to anticipate is that faculty interest may take a few semesters to develop. Also, it’s important to have leadership and a point-of-contact person who is able to explain EM/3C's in a way that helps faculty envision how they can integrate the approach into their classes. Likewise, running workshops and information sessions before the mini-grants are announced helps to generate interest and understanding. Getting buy-in from interdepartmental business units before grants are awarded is essential. 

Finally, the KEEN Professorships benefitted from ASU’s administration's willingness to promote this program at the highest level and support funding a dedicated point-of-contact person to manage the process, as well as FSE staff’s understanding and willingness to embrace the program, which aligns with the greater innovation and entrepreneurial commitment of ASU.