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INNOVATION LEADERSHIP & IMPACT


Gordon Prize winners J. Richard Phillips, Clive Dym and M. Mack Gilkeson


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HMC Strategic Vision in Action — Innovation, Leadership and Impact GORDON PRIZE HIGHLIGHTS ENGINEERING PROGRAM


What attracted trailblazing professors M. Mack Gilkeson and the late Jack Alford to then-newly opened Harvey Mudd College was, among other things, the school’s expressed willingness to gamble on innovative approaches to teaching. In short order, they convinced HMC to wager on the Clinic


Program, which the pair asserted would permit them not merely to inculcate engineering and math skills but, as importantly, to teach students how to lead and make an impact. “Clinic was controversial at its outset because it was very much


counter to the then-prevailing thinking about engineering cur- ricula,” said Gilkeson, now professor of engineering emeritus. It turned out to be a winning wager. Te most recent payoff


arrived in January 2012 in the form of the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. Conferred by the prestigious National Academy of Engineers, the prize carried with it an award of $500,000—half earmarked for Gilkeson and colleagues J. Richard Phillips and Clive Dym and the remainder for HMC to support the continued development, refinement and dissemination of the engineering program. Said Phillips, professor of engineering emeritus, who served


as Clinic director for 17 years, “Our approach to instruction was that we were on the student’s side, working to solve problems together.” “In engineering education, project-based experiential learning


is a big thing now, thanks to what we’ve been able to accomplish with the Clinic Program,” said Dym, Fletcher Jones Professor of Engineering Design and director of the Center for Design Education. Projects undertaken in the Clinic are sponsored by compa- nies, and those endeavors sometimes reap commercially viable


34 Har vey Mudd College FALL/WINTER 2012 “


OUR APPROACH TO INSTRUCTION WAS THAT WE WERE ON THE STUDENT’S SIDE, WORKING TO SOLVE PROBLEMS TOGETHER . —J . RICHARD P H I L L I P S





fruit, as was the case in October 2011, when tech company Laserfiche expanded its records management system with the addition of a mobile product employing Clinic-developed code. Such real-world experiences help the Clinic Program


achieve its ultimate aim: the creation of well-rounded engineers, designers and technology specialists who graduate equipped to persuasively convey innovative ideas to collaborators, business managers, clients, investors and government officials. Randall Saaf ’98 is one of them. After graduation, he drew


upon his Clinic training to found successful software companies Media Defender and Jirbo. “Clinic was a very important part of my Harvey Mudd education. It prepared me for entrepreneur- ship,” he commented in a recent survey of alumni.


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