Mines receives Office of Naval Research grant to foster leadership, problem-solving skills

GOLDEN, Colo., Aug. 17, 2015 – The Office of Naval Research is awarding $542,149 over three years to a Mines effort to produce graduates with both technical knowledge and the ability to work well with others as leaders and followers -- skills of particular interest to the U.S. Navy and its industry partners.

Physics Teaching Professor Pat Kohl spearheaded the proposal, titled "Horizontal and vertical integration of 21st century skillsets: Leadership, computation, and open-ended problem solving at an engineering university." Joining Kohl on the team are fellow Physics faculty Vince Kuo, Tim Ohno, and Mark Lusk; Applied Mathematics and Statistics faculty Gus Greivel and Scott Strong; and Leslie Light of EPICS.

The grant is part of the ONR's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiatives. "Many of their goals overlap well with ours here at Mines," Kohl said.

The seven faculty members will work together to revise some of the introductory core courses that affect all students at Mines, along with upper division courses that feed into programs of direct interest to the Navy and civilian contractors: physics, nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.

The changes will revolve around three pillars -- leadership and group management skills; competence with software and computational tools; and confidence with hands-on diagnostics and problem-solving. The revised courses will also feature numerous explicit linkages between them, with many direct references to tasks and concepts in other classes.

"We've noticed that students sometimes struggle to make the most productive use of their time, on account of not having had any explicit training in how to work in groups," Kohl said. "Our project will hopefully provide that training, leading to benefits in classes across campus."

The project also includes a plan to build direct contacts between Mines, Navy recruiting, and Navy institutions of higher education.


Mark Ramirez, Information Specialist, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu