Skip to main content

ASU lecturer named 2019 Rising Star by Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network

Amy Trowbridge (second from left) works with Grand Challenge Scholars Program students.

Amy Trowbridge (second from left), a senior lecturer and director of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Arizona State University, works with incoming Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students to develop skills to become Grand Challenge Scholars. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU

May 28, 2019

Amy Trowbridge has made a career out of preparing students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University to rise to the challenge of solving global issues using an entrepreneurial mindset.

Since the university adopted the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) mission in 2016, the senior lecturer and director of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program at ASU has championed other Fulton Schools faculty to embrace and exercise the entrepreneurial mindset to teach students to make positive societal impacts.

Now the Kern Family Foundation has recognized Trowbridge’s efforts by naming her the 2019 KEEN Rising Star. The award is given to individuals with less than 10 years of faculty experience who demonstrate a record of achieving alignment with KEEN’s mission by implementing inventive, impactful, inspiring and integrated applications of the entrepreneurial mindset.

“Since joining the faculty, Amy has been a remarkable advocate for Fulton Schools students, leading them to create value and impact as they emerge as global problem-solvers through the Grand Challenge Scholars Program,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Fulton Schools. “Being recognized with the 2019 KEEN Rising Star award is terrific validation of how Amy’s ideas, dedication and leadership continue to make this program a success, and we applaud this outstanding accomplishment.”

In its first year, the KEEN Rising Star award went to three individuals: Trowbridge; Justin Henriques, an associate professor at James Madison University; and Sarah Wodin-Schwartz, an assistant teaching professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Trowbridge, who earned the top honor, will be awarded a $25,000 grant from the Kern Family Foundation to advance KEEN’s mission. She will also be recognized and sponsored at the 2020 KEEN National Conference. Additionally, she will be presented with the KEEN Rising Star guitar. Henriques and Wodin-Schwartz will be presented with $10,000 grants at the conference along with their awards.

A KEEN Rising Star is driven by an entrepreneurial mindset; pursues innovative opportunities that create value for others; improves the hearts and minds of students, peers and communities; ensures future generations have access and opportunities; and helps others replicate and scale ideas worth spreading.

“I am honored to be selected as the Rising Star among the excellent faculty who make up the KEEN network,” Trowbridge said. “I am grateful to receive this recognition for the work that I have been doing to encourage entrepreneurial mindset development in students at ASU and beyond through efforts with first-year engineering courses and the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program.”

Trowbridge’s teaching style has always incorporated the entrepreneurial mindset as a way to focus students on creating engineering solutions that have value for the people they serve, an important component of the Kern Family Foundation, KEEN Network and the ASU charter.

“An entrepreneurial mindset is at the heart of engineering solutions to global challenges. Amy Trowbridge’s commitment and insight provide her students with tools not only to conceptualize a sustainable, built environment that meets our societal needs, but also to go out make it reality,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “From day one in her classroom, students are using collaboration and innovation to design our future.”

Through the NAE GCSP at ASU, Trowbridge uses the entrepreneurial mindset to guide students to create meaningful solutions to the NAE’s Grand Challenges of the 21st century. Trowbridge has been involved with ASU’s GCSP since 2013 and has been the director of the program since 2014. In that time, she has identified and implemented more opportunities to expand the entrepreneurial mindset in ASU’s GCSP and at other institutions and schools within the KEEN Network, connecting communities that are all working toward the same efforts.

“GCSP is preparing engineers who identify opportunities and utilize a broad skill set and perspective to develop solutions to societal problems that help people and improve lives,” Trowbridge said. “Students need to have an entrepreneurial mindset in order to identify those opportunities and make connections between culture, policy and other societal factors to develop solutions that create real value for society. Once I recognized this synergy, I found ways to further enhance entrepreneurial mindset development in my GCSP students at ASU from the start through our first-year GCSP course.”

Trowbridge is working with other ASU faculty members to develop a three-week-long Summer Immersion Program for GCSP students at ASU and from more than 10 institutions across the country. Participants will research, design and develop a solution on a Grand Challenge theme as part of a multi-institution team. Aimed at early undergraduates, the summer program has huge potential to cement the entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students who will take these ideas to the workplace.

Senior Lecturer Haolin Zhu, who contributed to Trowbridge’s nomination, noted her innovative efforts to empower first-year Fulton Schools students have been proven to “develop a systems perspective about engineering in various ways,” as measured by a research study about FSE 150: Perspectives on Grand Challenges for Engineering.

“(Students) are able to make connections between society and technology as a result of this course,” Zhu noted in Trowbridge’s nomination letter. “More specifically, students are able to recognize value creation and other societal impacts of technologies, several societal factors that influence engineering solutions and the need for applying multiple disciplines and perspectives when developing solutions for complex societal problems.”

James Collofello, vice dean for academic and student affairs and principal investigator for the ASU Kern Grant, says Trowbridge’s enhancements to GCSP and first-year courses are sustainable and institutionalized — enabling concepts of the entrepreneurial mindset and creating value for society to reach the more than 22,400 students in the Fulton Schools and more than 3,000 new students each year.

As part of the ASU Kern Grant, Trowbridge leads efforts to encourage entrepreneurial mindset development in GCSP students at ASU and across the country through educational opportunities for students, resources for faculty and connections with industry. She is leading the development of an entrepreneurial-mindset-focused “GCSP toolkit” that includes an open-access online Grand Challenges course and curricular modules, a Grand Challenges Speaker Series in partnership with the NAE, the GCSP Summer Immersion Program and an industry workshop focused on developing the value proposition of GCSP.

Trowbridge also uses the entrepreneurial mindset to improve her own teaching methods and to learn how to better serve her students. Drawing from the KEEN Integrating Curriculum with Entrepreneurial Mindset workshop she attended, Trowbridge brought the concept to ASU as a new type of faculty workshop. Trowbridge continually assesses her teaching approach. She considers her stakeholders and draws from her own experiences to develop valuable content, activities and lessons for students. This has allowed her to take a deeper look into how her classroom strategies can meet student needs. 

Trowbridge doesn’t keep all she’s learned through developing ASU programs and activities to herself and her home institution. She actively shares her successful strategies on, at KEEN national conferences and at NAE GCSP annual conferences. Her contributions to KEEN resources and GCSP strategies have been adopted by other institutions, widening the impact of her innovative approaches to implementing the entrepreneurial mindset.

She also noticed a potential connection between the KEEN network and the national GCSP program, which led to the formation of the KEEN GCSP subnet that has broadened participation and impact of both programs.

Trowbridge is still deciding how to use the KEEN Rising Star grant to further her efforts, but she says she’s excited about having the opportunity to explore additional ways to have a real impact on students’ mindsets.

“I plan to continue to help students to develop the interdisciplinary entrepreneurial mindset they need to work on challenges society faces today and create real value for people,” she said. “I’d like to provide opportunities that will enable students to explore, learn and continue their development as engineers within and outside the classroom.”

More Science and technology


Graphic depiction of a membrane ion channel.

Chilling discovery: Cold-sensing protein may pave the way for safer pain relief

For millions of people worldwide who live with chronic pain, the only treatments currently available often rely on opioids, which…

June 21, 2024
Person in a white lab coat and blue gloves handling lab equipment to research stem cell technology.

Harnessing benefits of stem cells for heart regeneration

Mehdi Nikkhah, an associate professor of biomedical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State…

June 21, 2024
Students seated at desks in a classroom listen to an unseen speaker.

Newly accredited ASU summer program opens up STEM opportunities for underrepresented students

It was Monday afternoon. Spotify was playing pop music in the background and the instructor stood behind a lectern wearing a…

June 20, 2024