Milwaukee School of Engineering is embarking on an initiative to further implement and institutionalize the MSOE Mindset.

The MSOE Mindset ensures MSOE graduates are leaders of character, passionate learners, responsible professionals, and value creators. The MSOE Mindset is a differentiator of an MSOE education that combines key concepts of entrepreneurial thinking, servant leadership and character formation. 

“We are committed to preparing the next generation of leaders to solve the diverse technical challenges of the 21st century by integrating MSOE Mindset development throughout our curriculum,” said Dr. DeAnna Leitzke, associate vice president of academic excellence and founder of the CREATE Institute. “This important step of curriculum development that is occurring as part of our transition to a semester-based calendar will benefit our students and the communities they impact for years to come.”   

More than 150 MSOE faculty across all programs will be engaged in this initiative to revolutionize the student experience. This transformation will be supported, in part, with a $2 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation focused primarily on the curriculum that impacts engineering undergraduate students.  

“I am grateful for the Kern Family Foundation’s support and investment in providing faculty valuable resources and opportunities to engage our students and develop both their technical skills and entrepreneurial mindset,” said Dr. John Walz, MSOE president. “The MSOE Mindset encompasses our commitment to our faculty, staff and graduates to empower them to lead flourishing and productive lives as key contributors to their communities. I am excited to see these efforts continue to grow on our campus.”  

The Kern Family Foundation has a long history of partnership with MSOE on major initiatives. A grant in 2018 founded the CREATE Institute (MSOE’s center for teaching and learning). The CREATE Institute began laying a strong foundation to instill the MSOE Mindset at the university.  

Faculty have played a key role in the development of CREATE Institute programming. With them, the CREATE Institute designed and implemented a robust professional development program to provide faculty with the resources they need to leverage MSOE’s industry partnerships to effectively use real-world experiential learning and Entrepreneurially Minded Learning (EML) techniques to help students develop the MSOE Mindset. Student and community programming also help to create high impact learning environments that cultivate the MSOE Mindset.  

“Our goal is to immerse students in experiences where they can practice servant leadership and exhibit an entrepreneurial mindset while honing their technical skills in the classroom and their character in their relationships with others. We’re excited to assist faculty in expanding on their efforts to embed the 3Cs of the entrepreneurial mindset in selected core and elective courses,” said Leitzke.  

The 3Cs of the entrepreneurial mindset are curiosity, connections and creating value. These intentional pathways in all of MSOE’s engineering programs will enable its students to demonstrate constant curiosity about the changing world and explore a contrarian view of accepted solutions. Through connections they integrate information from many sources to gain insight and assess and manage risk. They create value by identifying unexpected opportunities and persisting through and learning from failure.  

“Coupled with the servant-leadership mindset, this powerful combination will better prepare our graduates to serve society by solving the complex challenges of today and tomorrow,” said Leitzke.  

Early work by the CREATE Institute and MSOE faculty has led to many examples of the MSOE Mindset in action (see examples below). As the university transitions from its quarter-based academic calendar to a semester-based calendar in fall 2023, faculty in all departments are reimagining the curricula and taking this opportunity to institutionalize the MSOE Mindset and institutional learning outcomes throughout the revised curricula.   This new investment will support MSOE and its faculty in the following ways

  • Adding visiting faculty who will:
    • provide existing faculty with project time to build out new semester courses with the MSOE Mindset fully integrated through EML pedagogy in specific assignments, activities, and modules designed to foster the growth of the mindset.
    • directly support entrepreneurial mindset development by integrating EML into the courses they teach.
  • Adding academic support specialists who will indirectly support curricula development by:
    • reducing faculty loads and assisting with academic advising.
    • overseeing students’ transition plans from the quarter- to semester-based system.
    • managing transfer student credit evaluations.
    • supporting the development of assessment strategies for new institutional learning outcomes that are explicitly aligned with entrepreneurial mindset development (exhibit curiosity, integrate learning, and think critically).
  • Adding a program coordinator to train, support and supervise the new academic support specialists.
  • Continuing to offer faculty development support to efficiently integrate MSOE Mindset development.
  • Providing program director and department chair support to develop assessment strategies for new institutional learning outcomes in alignment with ABET assessment.  

Examples of Entrepreneurially Minded Learning in action at MSOE.

Climate Change Energy Projects with Community/Industry Participation
Dr. Mark Daugherty, adjunct associate professor, Mechanical Engineering Department
The California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan calls for all new residential construction to be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2020 and commercial construction to be ZNE by 2030. Students evaluated the economics, energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions for a zero-energy house. Others focused on a conceptual feasibility analysis of a community composting facility along with an analysis of energy used and greenhouse gasses generate by transporting food waste.

Our Plastic World
Dr. Eryn Hassemer, associate professor, Physics and Chemistry Department
Students determined how to clean up accumulating ocean plastic through curiosity, connections and creating value. They evaluated plastic clean-up methods and types of remediation; evaluated credible sources to determine current bioremediation methods for breaking down plastics and harvesting the potential from this biochemical process; and identified new methods and/or microbes to degrade plastics and ways to harvest the biochemical reaction potential for other uses.

Creating a Mindset of Uncovering Value in Ignored Medical Solutions
Dr. Jeffrey LaMack, professor and biomedical engineering program director, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
New medical device solutions require economic viability to be successful. Potential solutions are quickly discarded if monetary profit seems unlikely. Engineering students are often taught to do the same as they evaluate feasibility of solutions. Entrepreneurial minded learning asks them to look for contrarian views to accepted solutions and create value. They are encouraged to challenge conventional thinking in engineering solutions and explore ways to create added value for society.