How do grit and perseverance relate to character? Why are these and other virtues important to engineers? And how do we infuse character education into engineering and other disciplines across the university?

These were some of the questions that Dr. Michael Lamb, Director of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest, posed to Dr. Angela Duckworth during her keynote discussion on “Kindness, Generosity, Grit, and Character” on February 4, 2021 for the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network National Conference.

A MacArthur Fellow who is one of the world’s leading experts on character, Dr. Duckworth is the founder and CEO of Character Lab, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the New York Times best seller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. She is also a member of the Leadership and Character Council at Wake Forest, which engages leaders from diverse backgrounds and fields to advise the Program for Leadership and Character.

Through her research, teaching, and work at Character Lab, Dr. Duckworth is committed to thinking about questions of character and equipping educators to infuse character in their classrooms to meet the distinct needs of their students. As Dr. Duckworth said in her interview, “the specific [character] challenges for particular people are going to be different…but what I love about the engineering mindset is the ‘can do’ attitude. There’s got to be a solution — we just have to be ingenious and maybe gritty enough to find it.”

Dr. Lamb was grateful to be a part of the KEEN national conference, particularly since the Kern Family Foundation and the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network generously supplied grants to the Program and the Wake Forest Department of Engineering to integrate character modules into engineering curriculum and fund post-doctoral fellows.