On April 16 Princeton dedicated the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, which provides opportunities for all students to develop a solid understanding of technology and how it affects the world. The center is named in honor of Dennis J. Keller ’63 and his wife, Constance Templeton Keller.
“The Kellers are helping us to build a University where technology informs the liberal arts, and the liberal arts inform technology,” said President Shirley M. Tilghman, “and where our students can develop the broad array of skills and insights they need to become responsible citizens and effective leaders.”
The center’s multidisciplinary approach encourages fresh perspectives on engineering problems and emphasizes real-life experience and entrepreneurship. Students research and carry out engineering projects that range from building autonomous robotic vehicles on campus to installing solar electricity systems in Huamanzaña, Peru.
The daylong celebration began with a keynote address by Norman R. Augustine ’57 *59 H07, retired CEO and chairman of the board of Lockheed Martin, on the urgent need for more engineers to solve global problems.
The dedication ceremony was attended by several generations of the Keller family, one of whom accompanied Dennis Keller on a pre-dedication stroll across campus. "I took my son, Temp ’98, to the archway outside McCosh 50,” Keller said. “In the stones above the door we read the words: 'Here we were taught by men and Gothic towers / Democracy and faith and righteousness / And love of unseen things that do not die.' These words keep me in touch with the values I was raised with, and what I learned here. It's clear to me that I have received so much more than I have given as a Princetonian."
Keller, a charter trustee and director emeritus of the educational organization DeVry, Inc. said that in his fifteen years on the leadership council of the School of Engineering and Applied Science—which he now co-chairs—he has learned that there is nothing more important to the future of our planet than training engineers. “To improve the quality of life around the world we need the best solutions that the human mind is capable of producing,” he said.
Following the ceremony, a panel of distinguished engineering deans, representing Tufts, the University of Michigan, Stanford, Yale, MIT, and Princeton, discussed engineering in the context of globalization, liberal arts, entrepreneurship, research, and interdisciplinary teaching. The day concluded with an exhibition of student projects, such as a ceramic water filtration system, a bamboo bicycle, and a solar-powered refrigerator that can be mounted on a camel to transport vaccines to remote desert villages.
“We fully expect the Keller Center to have an impact that carries well beyond the borders of our campus,” said President Tilghman, “not only through the lives of its alumni but as a pedagogical model that will inspire similar initiatives elsewhere.”