The Turner Prize: What Does Academic Collaboration Mean?

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford

That powerful quote was used by Karen Sweeney (’80 AE) to close out the 2014 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction event on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Sweeney, Senior Vice President: Diversity, Inclusion and Community at Turner Construction, served as moderator of the panel discussion after the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering was recognized for bringing together students, educators, researchers, government entities, and industry to build efficiencies in the building industry and encourage energy-efficient building solutions.

The award committee specifically cited architectural engineering’s GridSTAR Center efforts at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia as one of the reasons for honoring Penn State with this year’s prize.

“We were missing a real practical practice in engineering so the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation went to Penn State to collaborate on the Navy Yard development,” explained John Grady, Turner Prize panelist and president, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. “Penn State warmed to the challenge quickly, especially the College of Engineering and especially the Department of Architectural Engineering. They knew how to be a difference maker. They were entrepreneurial and recognized that coming into Philadelphia meant bringing something new to the relationship.”

Panelist Ted Lynch (’92 AE, ’96 PhD), president, Southland Industries, agreed that Penn State is willing to adapt to the needs of its partners. “Penn State architectural engineering is responsive to the needs of the design/build industry,” he said.

One area of opportunity, Lynch said, is for industry and higher education to collaborate in the research areas that would help address the many issues and challenges facing the industry.

“The traditional university system isn’t set up to encourage collaboration, or at least not without too much bureaucracy,” Grady said.

“We have the freedom to establish programs like GridSTAR and engage students who are interested in these programs,” said Chimay Anumba, department head, Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering.

Another panelist and former under-secretary at the United States Department of Education, Martha Kanter, said that other universities should look at Penn State architectural engineering’s track record of preparing students for success and scale it to help solve the nationwide issue of students being underprepared for the work force.

“The nation needs graduates with imagination; students with cross- and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving,” Grady said. “Universities have the opportunity to bring all this together in order to train future leaders.”


Turner 1

The presentation of the Turner Prize (l. to r.): Chase Rynd, executive director, National Building Museum; Chimay Anumba, department head, Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering; David Riley, professor of architectural engineering and director of the GridSTAR Center; Anthony Atchley, senior associate dean, Penn State College of Engineering; Peter J. Davoren, president and chief executive officer, Turner Construction.

Turner 2

Karen Sweeney, left, moderates a conversation on innovation, education, and collaboration as driving forces in economic development and a 21st-century workforce. Panelists (L-R): Chimay Anumba, John Grady, Martha Kanter, and Ted Lynch.



Read More

Frame Changers: Khanjan Mehta’s cartoon series reflects on a decade of social innovation in Africa

In September 2004, Khanjan Mehta, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program, advised a student team designing a low-cost windmill for a rural community in Western Kenya. Little did he know it would be his first of dozens of trips to developing countries to build technology-based ventures that improve human lives. On the tenth anniversary of his engagement with Africa, Mehta has created and launched Frame Changers, a daily cartoon through which he shares lessons learned in the broad areas of sustainable development, humanitarian engineering and social entrepreneurship.

The Frame Changers name, Mehta explained, was inspired by moments that caused him to revisit his philosophy of engagement and rethink his concepts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “While my quest for improving the human condition has yielded a few ‘game changers,’ there have been countless everyday ‘frame changers’: moments that have challenged my beliefs, values and rational assumptions.”

He noted that Frame Changers are a variety of funny, satirical, incisive, futuristic, inspiring and hypocritical takes on the array of social ventures he has been involved with through the years: windmills, telemedicine systems, low-cost diagnostics, science education programs, innovation spaces and affordable greenhouses.

Frame Changers 1

The first daily Frame Changers cartoon was posted earlier this week. Anyone interested in subscribing can sign up at

Mehta estimates that HESE ventures have touched the lives of more than a million people. Perhaps Frame Changers will, too.


Frame Changers is available at and For more information about the HESE program, visit Prof. Mehta can be reached at 814-863-4426 or

Read More

Entrepreneurship in Happy Valley

by Frank Koe, PhD

There are many advantages of living in Happy Valley: the friendly community, the access to cultural and sporting events, the diversity that Penn State brings to central Pennsylvania, the gorgeous surroundings and availability of so many outdoors activities. There is truly something for just about everyone.

But Happy Valley is not without its drawbacks. Geographically, we are fairly isolated, located about four hours from several metropolitan areas. Unlike these major cities where resources and opportunities are plentiful, we are simply at a disadvantage in some arenas.

This is especially evident for the entrepreneurially minded in our community – including the would-be entrepreneurs in our academic circles. Fortunately, we do have Lion Launch Pad, Global Entrepreneurship Week, Start-Up Week and the university-wide entrepreneurship and innovation minor that continues to grow and develop. Nonetheless, challenges remain to expand connections and entrepreneurial activities beyond our university.

In an effort to stretch the boundaries and immerse students into the real-world rigors of entrepreneurship, a proposal has been submitted by Penn State to the Department of Community & Economic Development to create a program aimed at sharing entrepreneurial resources and hosting regional student entrepreneurship competitions. If the proposal is approved, funds will be used to seed innovative ideas that promote entrepreneurship, tech transfer and increase awareness and expansion of resources to assist budding entrepreneurs at Bucknell, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and Penn State. Goals include exposing nearly 5,000 students to entrepreneurship, potentially creating up to 30 new businesses and 30 new technologies by young entrepreneurs, and coordinating activities, experiences and services for undergraduate students.

For more information about the plans for this entrepreneurship program, contact Maria Spencer, business consultant, Small Business Development Center and Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), at

Frank T. Koe, Ph.D. is an associate professor of engineering entrepreneurship within the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) at Penn State. Accomplishments include founding his own sporting good accessory business that focuses on hunting and fishing. Products can be seen in Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and other outlets nationwide. His entrepreneurial academic experiences include serving as associate director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Stern School of Business, New York University, and dean of the Baker School of Business and Technology at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY.

Read More
Skip to toolbar