Engineering dean chosen for prestigious NAE Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Campbell University School of Engineering Founding Dean Dr. Jenna Carpenter will be awarded the 2022 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education from the National Academy of Engineering, the organization announced today. 

Carpenter and Grand Challenge Scholars Program pioneers Thomas Katsouleas, Richard Miller and Yannis Yortsos are being recognized “for creating an innovative education program that prepares students to become future engineering leaders who will address the NAE Grand Challenges of Engineering,” according to NAE President John Anderson. The $500,000 award recognizes new methods and concepts in education aimed at developing effective engineering leaders. 

Carpenter, who is currently president-elect of the American Society for Engineering Education and will take over as president in June, called it a “tremendous privilege” to work on advancing the Grand Challenge Scholars Program around the nation and the world. 

“The Grand Challenge Scholars Program not only helps provide students with 21st century skill sets, but also motivates them to help solve the grand challenges of engineering facing our world today,” Carpenter said. “I am very grateful to the National Academy and to the Bernard M. Gordon Prize Selection Committee for recognizing our efforts to establish and advance the GCSP.”

Offered at engineering schools worldwide, the GCSP provides a combined curricular and extracurricular approach to prepare undergraduate students to tackle objectives that could dramatically improve quality of life around the world. Katsouleas, Miller and Yortsos co-founded the program in 2009 at their respective universities — Duke University, Olin College and the University of Southern California — and Carpenter joined the original group later and made valuable contributions, drawing on her research on integrating STEM curricula. She served for seven years as chair of the GCSP steering committee. 

“The NAE is honored to recognize Carpenter, Katsouleas, Miller and Yortsos for their tremendous impact on engineering education through the Grand Challenges Scholars Program,” said Anderson. “This groundbreaking program has changed the way students approach learning about engineering and its value to society. Without the vision, hard work, and dedication of these educators the GCSP would not have had the impact it has on the way we educate our students.” 

Since its launch, the GCSP has spread to more than 90 engineering schools across the country, as well as several prominent international programs. In addition to the engineering requirements for their degree, students who complete the program create a portfolio with five components:

  • Hands-on research or project related to one of the Grand Challenges
  • Broad general education, including behavior, economics, and policy
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Global and cultural understanding
  • Service learning and societal impact

Carpenter began her role as dean and professor of engineering at Campbell in 2015. With a hands-on, project-based approach for all four years of an undergrad’s experience, Campbell Engineering focuses on design and utilizes unique class labs to seamlessly integrate lecture and lab. The program also emphasizes teaming, communication skills, student internships, professional engineering licensure, professional development training and service learning.

Carpenter is also an expert on issues impacting the success of women in STEM and on innovative STEM curricula, she has held numerous national leadership roles, in addition to ASEE: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (president), Mathematical Association of America (first vice president, and chair of the MAA Council on the Profession), Joint Committee on Women in the Mathematical Sciences (co-chair), National Academies Ad Hoc Committee for the Gulf Scholars Program (chair), and National Steering Committee for the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (chair).