Ritchie named Engineering Unleashed Fellow

Posted: September 3, 2021
Brian Ritchie
Brian Ritchie

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor of Practice Brian Ritchie has been recognized as an Engineering Unleashed 2021 Fellow by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). He is among just 27 faculty across the U.S. to receive the honor this year.

Engineering Unleashed Fellows are faculty from higher education institutions who have been recognized for their contribution to engineering education, and specifically entrepreneurial engineering. They also were participants in the Engineering Unleashed Faculty Development Program, which highlights entrepreneurial minded learning as central to the development of engineering graduates prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world.

Ritchie was selected for his plan to infuse his capstone course with KEEN’s entrepreneurial mindset (EM), which empowers engineers to question, adapt, think differently and make positive change. To amplify the impact of his work, he will receive $10,000 through the Kern Family Foundation.

“I am honored to have received this recognition,” said Ritchie. “I am also excited to join a community dedicated to teaching engineering better. Capstone is often relied upon to teach many of the intangible skills vital for our students to succeed in their careers, and this community is very helpful for doing that well. Getting advice from expert instructors allows me to avoid some of the common errors and instead employ best practices as often as possible.”

Ritchie said his project is an extension of efforts he made in 2020 in connection with existing KEEN work occurring at Ohio State. He implemented a series of small introductions of explicit EM content into his course, replacing previous terminology to be consistent with KEEN’s framework. He also added a few small assignments to highlight certain aspects of EM.

Currently, he is extending that work by adding information about EM and how it applies to major assignments into the assignment prompts in his capstone. Ritchie will also assess the EM in those assignments by including it directly in the grading rubric so that students see that demonstrating EM is directly worth points. He’ll compare those results to assignments from prior years when EM was not in the rubric.

“This is fundamentally work I should do anyway as an instructor—assessing my teaching and looking for ways to improve it,” said Ritchie. “KEEN provides a framework and resources to help me do it better, which helps motivate me to do the work. I can justify spending a lot more time on it, like assessing multiple years of prior capstone reports, due to the fellowship.” 

Under normal circumstances, Ritchie would have proposed to use some of the funds to disseminate his work at a conference, but the pandemic has made that possibility uncertain. Fortunately, through Ohio State’s involvement with KEEN, he can disseminate his findings through faculty learning communities and the KEEN conference, plus online through Engineering Unleashed. 

Ritchie said he was introduced to KEEN and EM during a presentation from colleagues in the Department of Engineering Education and was immediately drawn to the community and its concepts.

“I saw how well EM aligned with what I was already teaching in my capstone and was interested in learning more about KEEN, EM and how best to teach it. I felt it was significant that the experts in engineering education felt this was a better approach to teaching engineering to our engineering students.”

He hopes that EM coordination across departments and years of study will continue to grow, benefiting students and faculty alike.

“It will be much easier to teach EM concepts to students and get them to see the importance when they hear the same terminology and concepts from their first year through their final year, and in a wide variety of courses,” he said. “That coordination brings a diverse set of experiences and viewpoints on teaching into the mix, resulting in a better result for all of us.”

Ritchie is the second Engineering Unleashed Fellow from Ohio State. Julia Armstrong received the honor in 2020.

Ritchie received his PhD and master’s in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a proud Buckeye as well, having earned his bachelor’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Ohio State.

To learn more about his Engineering Unleashed work, visit engineeringunleashed.com/card/2295 (free membership required).

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications | biss.11@osu.edu

Category: Faculty