In the last decade, Olin College was visited by more than 2,500 faculty and staff from more than 800 universities representing more than 50 different nations. There is an enormous interest in innovative ways of educating engineers around the world today. This is partly the result of a rising middle class in nations like Brazil, Russia, India, and China. A major concern for the middle class everywhere is higher education for their children. As a result, these nations (and many others) are feeling pressure to create more and better universities to accommodate this need, with particular emphasis on engineering and business since these countries are rapidly developing.
As they search for models of academic institutions that provide useful insights and experience, Olin College stands out. As a result, Olin College is a natural “first place to look” when this kind of major project is under consideration. I would recommend that if this is your concern, you start by visiting Olin College in person (if possible) and enroll in the Summer Institute and other outreach programs available there to help other institutions get started on the right track. Information on these and similar opportunities at Olin College are available here.
However, the Olin programs are designed to help prepare faculty employed at other universities to adopt more student-centered learning strategies that emphasize intrinsic motivation, design thinking, and equity and inclusion. Of course, this requires that the institution already exist and that the community has a readiness to adopt major shifts in learning paradigm. But when a completely new institution is in formation, the faculty have not yet been engaged, and the organization and structure of the university has not yet been determined. The Olin programs at this early stage may be of limited use to the founders, except for inspiration.
In such situations, I and a few select colleagues who have been directly involved in the conceptualization, design, implementation, construction, funding, governance, and public relations of entirely new institutions might be able to provide unique consulting opportunities unavailable at any other institution. When such a project aligns well with my experiences and interests, I would be enthusiastic to engage with you, and assemble a team of additional talents to fit your project needs. Since the challenges inherent in such an undertaking extend well beyond university teaching, I have a short list of highly experienced and well regarded colleagues that could join me in providing comprehensive services for such an undertaking.
Furthermore, it occurred to me some years ago that most of what has been learned about effective transformational undergraduate education through experiments at Olin and elsewhere is NOT limited to the field of Engineering. In fact, the principles are equally applicable and transferrable to any field at the undergraduate level. As a result, the opportunity exists for a project to experiment with the Olin learning culture in a liberal arts university rather than an engineering college. I believe the potential benefits could be multiplied and become many times more effective than they are in the field of engineering, where many engineering institutions are already beginning to embrace elements of the new learning model. The task of conceiving, planning and implementing such a transformative educational experiment in liberal arts is needed, in my opinion, and I would be anxious to help with this as a consultant if the opportunity were to arise.
There are an infinite variety of other educational experimentation and innovation projects that are very important at this moment in our history, and that require unique experience in designing entire programs and institutions, and also require the availability of such uniquely experienced professionals who can devote essentially full-time to the activity for an extended period if appropriate alignment and goals are established.
I have been involved in several such institutional designs in the last 15-20 years, in various roles, ranging from senior advisor, mentor, co-designer to consultant. Some of these projects are described below:
Insper is a private university in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It originated about the time Olin College was founded, except with a focus on entrepreneurial business. Insper sought guidance from Harvard Business school in its initial phase of development. Soon after it launched, the founder of Insper approached me with an interest in engaging with Olin to create a new engineering school adjacent to the business school. This led to a multi-year relationship between Olin and Insper that is now producing a new type of engineering graduate in South America.
NMITE is an entirely new undergraduate engineering institution in Hereford, UK. From inception they have worked closely with Olin College in developing their own learning model and they have welcomed their inaugural class of first year students in Fall 2021. I have been involved in meeting with their Board of Trustees about governance, and with their President about Leadership in the start-up environment.
Shenzhen InnoX Academy is another entirely new academic institution in China that was inspired by Olin College. It launched its small inaugural class of graduate students in Fall 2021 immersed in the intense modern manufacturing environment of Shenzhen as they work to identify opportunities for entrepreneurial robotic engineering applications. My involvement is as a member of the advisory board for the Academy and personal advisor to the founding faculty.
IIT-GN is an innovative new campus of the Indian Institute of Technology. It has received a number of awards in India for innovation and is quickly establishing a reputation for exceptional engineering and science education. My role has been as a member of the Leadership Conclave and Academic Advisory Board.
Ahmedabad University is a large private multidimensional research university in the region of Ghandi’s birth. In Fall of 2020, it launched an Olin-inspired learning paradigm across all majors on campus and is a leader in experiential learning in India. My role has been as an advisor to the Vice Chancellor of the university, and Olin College has provided faculty tutorials and semester-in-residence opportunities for AU faculty.
Nazarbayev University is a major research university that was recently conceived and launched in Kazakhstan with help from the World Bank. My role was an original short-term consultant to the Bank on a project to provide advice and guidance to the planners of the university, and later as an invited speaker to the Board of Trustees.
Khalifa University is a new major research university in Abu Dhabi. It offers a broad range of subjects including medicine, engineering, liberal arts, and business. When it was originally conceived, my role was as an advisor to the founding president and then as a member of his Academic Advisory Committee, which included several other university presidents.
Madan Bhandari University is under construction with support from the Nepalese government. My role, so far, has been to serve as a consultant (with support from the Asian Development Bank) to the founding board as they plan for all aspects of the university, construction and launch.
As a result of previous professional relationships with the then-Provost of UIUC, I worked with her and the Dean of Engineering to develop a collaboration agreement with Olin College whereby Olin faculty and UIUC faculty worked together to adapt several key pedagogical programs at Olin to the UIUC campus. This program engaged the iFoundry at UIUC and was quite successful. It resulted in the book A Whole New Engineer that illustrated how ideas developed at Olin could be successfully adapted to very large universities.
As a result of long professional relations with colleagues at MIT, I was invited to spend a sabbatical year at MIT as the Jerome C. Hunsaker Visiting Professor of Aerospace Systems in 2020-21. The primary focus of my activities for the year included joining the advising team building the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) program, and also engaging with the MIT Mental Wellness Initiative, and other activities including providing the Minta Martin Lecture on the future of higher education, and providing guest lectures in the redesign of the university.
As a result of faculty interest in exploring the potential to adapt the Olin learning principles to a predominantly LatinX serving institution, I helped facilitate collaborations with the College of Engineering at UTEP who then successfully adapted many of the Olin learning principles to a very different institution.
At the request of the President of HPU, I met with the Board of Trustees to explore together future trends in higher education and potential strategic strengths and opportunities for this large private university with a wide range of academic programs.
At the request of the then-dean of Engineering, I consulted with him and presented to his advisory board regarding their interest in adapting pedagogical principles developed at Olin to the undergraduate program at the UM. The resulting conversations led to decisions to include some faculty with research interests in STEM education.
At the request of the then-Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, I consulted on the pedagogical approaches to design-based learning in STEM and served on the Visiting Committee to SEAS for several terms. In addition, I was invited to share lessons learned in invited presentations on several occasions and served as a personal advisor to two deans of SEAS, one of whom now serves on the Olin College Board of Trustees.
At the request of the then-Dean of the School of Engineering, I shared lessons learned at Olin College, provided a keynote address in the e-Corner engineering entrepreneurship program, and served on the Advisory Committee of the School. The Dean of Engineering has served on the President’s Council and Board of Trustees at Olin College for more than a decade.
At the request of the Dean of Engineering, I visited HKUST to consult on lessons learned at Olin College in developing design-based learning in STEM, and now serve on the advisory committee to the Integrated Systems and Design program. I have continued to advise and consult with senior faculty at HKUST in several departments as they plan to develop an entirely new academic institution based on these principles.
At the request of the President, I met with the Board of Trustees to share lessons learned at Olin College to support their strategic planning process. In addition, I continue to engage with their faculty on developing life-transformative educational practices across all majors at the College.
At the request of the Chancellor, I have visited to share lessons learned in design-based learning methods in STEM education and to advise in the development of pedagogical models that enhance alumni wellbeing long after graduation.
At the request of the then-Dean of Engineering, I visited and consulted to provide advice and lessons learned in developing design-based learning and entrepreneurial pedagogical approaches to undergraduate education across the campus.
At the request of the then-President, I visited campus and continue to provide personal consultation on the development of life-transformative education across all majors at the university.
Contact Richard Miller
If you would like to explore the possibility of a consulting engagement, I suggest that you fill out the information below and forward it to me through this website. This will result in scheduling a 1:1 conversation with you to begin the process of determining whether there is an opportunity to work together to meet your needs.