Interdisciplinary UND team selected for innovation program


Amy Halvorson

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Engineering & Mines


University officials striving to instill a unique undergraduate experience in engineering and entrepreneurship

A team of faculty and administrators from the University of North Dakota was selected as one of 25 U.S. university teams to take part in the second cohort of the National Center for Engineering’s (Epicenter) Pathways to Innovation Program.

This program helps institutions incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into undergraduate engineering education by leading teams of faculty and administrators through a two-year process to design and implement unique plans for each institution.

The UND Pathways’ team co-leaders are Tim O’Keefe, interim director of the UND School of Entrepreneurship, and Brian Tande, associate professor and chair of the UND Chemical Engineering Department. They will be supported by UND President Robert Kelley, Margaret Williams, dean of the UND College of Business and Public Administration, and Hesham El-Rewini, dean of the College of Engineering and Mines.

“The Pathways to Innovation program will provide valuable resources to our University and help us reach our shared goals of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Kelley.

Program teams receive access to models for integrating entrepreneurship into engineering curriculum, custom online resources, and guidance from a community of engineering and entrepreneurship faculty, and membership in a national network of schools with similar goals.

Some of the other universities chosen to participate in this program include, New York Institute of Technology, James Madison University, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Washington State University and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Ongoing innovation is required to maintain America’s global competitiveness and address pressing problems. Engineering is the foundation of much of that innovation. Faculty and administrators participating in Epicenter’s Pathways program are taking on this challenge and leading their universities into a new era of engineering education that prepares students to tackle big problems and thrive in an ever-changing economy.

“There are 500,000 students in the U.S. majoring in engineering and computer science fields,” said Tom Byers, director and co-principal investigator of Epicenter and a professor at Stanford University. “These students are expected to enter industry with technical knowledge as well as a diverse set of skills and attitudes that help them to innovate, collaborate and create value. As educators, we need to better prepare this generation of students for the workforce and position them for success in their careers.”

The team leader’s first meeting was held at Stanford University on Jan. 14. A second meeting will be held next month (Feb. 16-18) in Phoenix, where participants will analyze the opportunities at their schools and develop plans for transforming the undergraduate engineering experience.

About Epicenter:

The Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). Epicenter’s mission is to empower U.S. undergraduate engineering students to bring their ideas to life for the benefit of our economy and society. To do this, Epicenter helps students combine their technical skills, their ability to develop innovative technologies that solve important problems, and an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. Epicenter’s three core initiatives are the University Innovation Fellows program for undergraduate engineering students and their peers, the Pathways to Innovation Program for institutional teams of faculty and university leaders, and the Fostering Innovative Generations Studies research program, which contributes to national knowledge of entrepreneurship and engineering education.