MSOE kicked off the academic year with faculty onboarding sessions hosted by the CREATE Institute. Dr. A.L. Ranen McLanahan, program director of entrepreneurial engineering at The Kern Family Foundation, presented a workshop on the entrepreneurial mindset.

McLanahan shared that while many engineering students are able to solve the technical challenges presented to them in a textbook, they may not be able to identify and investigate opportunities when it comes to real-world projects. “A huge gap exists between technical analysis and actual value creation,” said McLanahan. That’s where the entrepreneurial mindset and experiential learning come in.

The entrepreneurial mindset is a set of attitudes, dispositions, habits and behaviors that shape a unique approach to problem-solving, innovation and value creation. McLanahan dove into the benefits of incorporating Entrepreneurial Minded Learning into the classroom, which includes encouraging students to explore curiosity, connections and creating value while executing projects.

When McLanahan was planning lessons for his own students, he asked himself, “How do I add in mindset in tandem with the technical?” He shared an example of a programming project that challenged engineering students to make a firework display with LED lights. “Students spent hours working on it. They were engaged in a way I hadn’t expected.” One student even emailed him years after graduating to share it was his favorite college class. His point was simple: integrating the entrepreneurial mindset into the classroom doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be complex, but it will bring a positive impact to the classroom.

The entrepreneurial mindset is a key element of the MSOE Mindset, which identifies graduates as leaders of character; responsible professionals; passionate learners; and value creators. Faculty focus on helping students develop the MSOE Mindset through experiential learning that prepares them for real-world projects.

“It was great having Ranen here to speak with new and returning faculty,” said Natalie Villegas, director of the CREATE Institute. “Experiential learning is at the heart of an MSOE education. Ranen’s examples were not only inspiring but also framed in pedagogical research. I’m excited to see how faculty incorporate Entrepreneurial Mindset and Entrepreneurial Minded Learning into their curriculum.”

MSOE is currently working to further implement and institutionalize the MSOE Mindset through curriculum development that will revolutionize the student experience. The transformation is supported, in part, with a $2 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation. Faculty who would like to learn more about the CREATE Institute and the ways they support faculty may visit or contact