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EMERGE Annual Meeting

May 22-24, 2023 in Chapel Hill, NC

The EMERGE two-day in-person meeting is intended for universities and colleges that are creating or have recently created an engineering program and are interested in networking with other faculty and administrators, developing expertise in culture building and external partnership formation, and building entrepreneurial-minded learning into the curriculum. We welcome past and new attendees for a two-day experience focused on Collaboration and Community; building community and a unique culture in your new program, identifying unexpected collaborative opportunities across your institution, and building impactful external collaborations that strengthen your programs and graduates.

The meeting will include ample time for networking and socializing among attendees, and each of the workshop sessions are interactive and incorporate a mix of learning, sharing, and working together with your colleagues. Formal sessions will include Exploring the Unexpected Opportunities within Your Institution, Achieving Impact Through Externally Partnered Projects, and Building Culture and Community in a New Engineering Program.

Please note that universities/colleges do not have to be part of the KEEN network to participate. If you are interested in joining the KEEN network, please email


Please email for information.

Travel and Hotel

Air travel: RDU airport. The airport is 18 miles from Chapel Hill. 

Local transportation: Transportation options between RDU and Chapel Hill include a personal rental car, taxis, and rideshare such as Uber and Lyft. Once you arrive at the hotel, all workshop activities and meals are within a 0.5 mile walk from the hotel. If you need transportation to these sites, please let us know and we can provide this. You can specify this need during the workshop registration process.

Hotel: AC Hotel by Marriott

Workshop location: Most sessions will take place on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill in the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence in Graham Memorial. Dinners will take place in downtown Chapel Hill, all within walking distance of the hotel.


Welcome Dinner

Location: Top of the Hill, 100 East Franklin St, Chapel Hill

Workshop and Conversation I: Exploring the Unexpected Opportunities Within Your Institution

Facilitators: Rich Goldberg and Robert Nagel
The creation of a new engineering program provides a unique opportunity so that students can develop their engineering skills and mindsets in new ways. For example, how can engineering connect with other established programs and resources across a wide variety of areas (i.e. other professional programs like medicine, law, business, or the creative arts, music and theater)? This is an ideal time to explore new and unexpected opportunities that will equip students to pursue impactful and rewarding career opportunities. During this session, participants will explore how to identify and foster new opportunities for students to collaborate and engage more broadly beyond engineering, using resources already established at your institution.
Location: Graham Memorial Hall, room 039

Networking Lunch

Workshop and Conversation II: Achieving Impact Through Externally Partnered Projects

Facilitator: Scott Hersey
This workshop focuses on developing a framework for achieving impact through externally-partnered undergraduate learning experiences and programs. Through active and reflective modes, we will work toward a shared understanding of what “impact” means in the context of work with community or industry partners. We will also focus on the process of engaging with external partners, and on the collaborative process of identifying appropriate student projects that are aimed at achieving real and sustained impact in the world. We will explore characteristics of collaborative and mutual partnerships, guidelines for identifying and prioritizing project goals, markers of successfully-scoped projects, and strategies for maximizing social impact in sustainable ways.
Location: Graham Memorial Hall, room 039

Networking Dinner

Location: 411 West, 411 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill

Workshop and Conversation III: Building Culture and Community in a New Program

Facilitators: Rob Martello and Jessica Townsend
The creation of a new academic program comes with a unique opportunity to create or reset departmental or institutional culture, and to build a connected and supportive community that can take on challenges productively and collaboratively. Early strategic choices and clear intention-setting are essential in fostering your desired culture and community, but serendipity plays a role as well. In this workshop, we will share examples of how culture is signaled and supported at a variety of academic programs and institutions. We will share strategies for building and sustaining a constructive, innovative culture. We will ask participants to identify the unique characteristics of their community (program or institution) that can be strengthened to support collaboration and a sense of common purpose among faculty, staff and students.

Closing and Final Reflection
Facilitators: EMERGE Leads

Boxed Lunch To-Go

Location: Graham Memorial Hall, room 039
Networking lunch as we wrap up the workshop.

Mask Policy

UNC and The Orange County Health Department has lifted its mask requirement for public and indoor spaces following the guidance by the CDC and NC DHHS. As a result, and following UNC System guidance, UNC lifted the indoor mask mandate for most of campus. This change comes at a time when we are seeing decreasing cases in our campus and local communities. We realize that this transition is welcome for some and brings discomfort for others. If you feel more comfortable still wearing a mask, you are free to do so. There are many reasons why a person may decide to continue to wear a mask, and we respect that choice. See here for more details.

For any further questions, contact