Former ABET Volunteer Sherra Kerns and Colleagues Win NAE’s Gordon Prize

March 5, 2013

Gordon Prize WinnersBaltimore, MD - Congratulations to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering's Sherra E. Kerns, Ph.D.; her husband David V. Kerns, Jr., Ph.D., P.E.; and their colleague Richard K. Miller, Ph.D., for winning the National Academy of Engineering's 2013 Bernard M. Gordon Prize!

In 1999, Richard Miller, Olin's first employee, hired Sherra and her husband, David, to help build the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass. Together, they developed a vision for an engaging approach to teaching engineering and a new culture of learning that is truly student-focused. Some argue that one of their most significant contributions was the creation of a profoundly inclusive and collaborative process of experimentation and decision-making involving students in every aspect of the institution's invention. This is illustrated by the 2001 decision to recruit 30 young students to spend a year as "partners" in residence with the faculty in conducting many experiments together before establishing the first curriculum.

This new learning model, and the inclusive process that produced it, have attracted considerable international attention. In the past three years, approximately 200 universities have visited Olin to benchmark and explore ways of initiating major changes in their own curriculum. Nine other institutions have already made substantial changes that were inspired by the Olin program, and dozens of others are considering such changes. In the next 10 years, Olin aspires to build a "movement" among like-minded institutions to globally transform the education of undergraduate engineers.

ABET is proud of Sherra Kerns' accomplishments, as she was heavily involved with our organization while founding this innovative new institution and developing its ground-breaking curriculum with her team. Sherra was member of the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) for six years (2000-2006) and represented IEEE on the ABET Board of Directors for two years (2006-2008).

Press release courtesy of National Academy of Engineering. 

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