Aerospace Engineering Faculty Kelly Griendling Receives James G. Pope Teaching Fellowship

Aerospace Engineering Faculty Kelly Griendling Receives James G. Pope Teaching Fellowship
Aerospace Engineering School Researcher Kelly Griendling consulting with ASDL Directore Dimitri Mavris while students construct a vehicle
Well-Mentored Mentors Mentor Well. Part of the reason why Griendling is so enthusiastic about her new role as a faculty lecturer and a CREATE-X Fellow is that she was mentored by one of the best, Prof. Dimitri Mavris. The two are seen here helping ASDL students with an experimental vehicle.

2021Jim Pope Create-X Fellow Dr. Kelly Griendling
Prof. Kelly Griendling

Aerospace Engineering School faculty Dr. Kelly Griendling has been selected to participate in the 2020-21 cohort of the James G. Pope Faculty Fellowship, an endowed teaching program of Create-X, Georgia Tech's entrepreneurial learning incubator.

Griendling was one of several faculty from across the Institute chosen for the year-long fellowship, which is designed to infuse an innovative, business-savvy perspective into the teaching methods of young faculty from all disciplines. This fall, participants will shadow current Create-X faculty to learn the evidence-based entrepreneurship teaching methodology that is used. In the Spring, they will mentor up to five CREATE-X teams who will be competing in the 2021 Georgia Tech Capstone Expo.

Participants will also get a $15,000 stipend to invest in equipment or other resources that will bring the entrepreneurial flavor into their own teaching practice. Griendling said she's not certain yet how she will spend that money, but she's not worried about coming up with ideas.

"I already have a million ideas, and I'll learn so much from the shadow-teaching, where I'll be watching other faculty who are doing great work in this area," she said.

The CREATE-X Fellowship is named after James G. Pope, GT-EE '65, and is intended to facilitate an entrepreneurial teaching methodology that will complement the CREATE-X initiative. The CREATE-X Initiative is designed to cultivate entrepreneurship in students, who are recruited from technical and non-technical majors across the Institute. They learn about startup concepts, terminology, and methodology. With the assistance of instructors and mentors, they create prototypes and intellectual property, eventually launching startups as part of their capstone semester. The Initiative has three main thrusts:

LEARN - A set of classes focused on startup concepts and terminology, and the evidence-based entrepreneurship methodology. 

MAKE - A set of research and prototyping programs that enable students to overcome technology barriers that might lie in the way of them launching a successful venture.

LAUNCH - A semester-long program where students receive funding and in-kind services to launch their own startups and have access to additional capital from an investment fund set up by friends of Georgia Tech .


"The task before me, now, is to narrow down the options to a few high-impact initiatives that we can bring into the classroom. The goal is to change the classroom experience."

The breathless excitement in Griendling's voice is real. Teaching - and learning about teaching well - are goals that have taunted her since her days as a researcher in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab, when she was 'talked into' teaching a System of Systems class.

"I taught it, and I loved it," she says. "I liked interacting with the students, getting to watch them go through the learning and discovery process. And seeing them get it."

That 'it' is the transformative thinking that separates good students from great engineers. It is integral to the entrepreneurial focus of Create-X. Griendling explains:

"There's a confidence we build into our students when we incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into the classroom and the lab. The teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking help them learn how to pursue more complex goals and how to persist through failure. Entrepreneurial-minded activity helps students better make connections between the concepts being taught and the real world, which both motivates and anchors their learning."

Lofty goals, certainly, but Griendling has put them to the test many times over. After earning her doctorate at the Daniel Guggenheim School, she worked as an ASDL research engineer and mentored the Science Technology & Engineering Program (STEP), a 12-day summer camp that introduces STEM concepts to Atlanta-area teens. For awhile, she even worked with the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace.

But when the newly created position of AE lecturer became available at her alma mater last year, Griendling knew she had to have it.

"The position so suits me," she said. "I am doing what I've always wanted to do and I love it."

In addition to her teaching duties, Griendling this spring mentored Team  AVIS - a group of undergrad engineers who successfully competed for an $80,000 NASA grant to develop an active vortex generating system that will reduce drag, improve safety, and reduce CO2 emissions.

"The idea they pitched to NASA came from a project that one of our undergrads, Michael Gamarnik had put together for a CREATE-X program," says Griendling.

"During CREATE-X, he'd done some discovery on his concept, and had found the technological problems and the market issues. He was ready to bring them to our team to work out. The project we went with was a lot different, but what Michael got from this was huge. He saw his ideas go all the way from concept to prototype. He saw how all of it fit together."

A million ideas. And then some.



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