Engineering’s Koe uses entrepreneurial spirit as Distinguished Honors Faculty

October 24, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For Frank Koe, associate professor of engineering entrepreneurship at Penn State, the principles of entrepreneurship aren’t just for innovative business owners — they are traits that can significantly contribute to living a fulfilled life.

Teaching students to appreciate and use the entrepreneurial mindset is something Koe hopes to spread throughout the University as a member of the Schreyer Honors College Distinguished Honors Faculty Program (DHFP) for 2016-17.

The DHFP focuses on sharing information and connecting Schreyer Scholars to some of the most distinguished faculty at Penn State through interactive programs that extend learning beyond the traditional classroom setting. These programs involve three small group discussion sessions per semester held in an informal setting, often at dinner.

During his sessions, Koe will investigate the dreams and aspirations of 10 to 15 students in order to determine how they envision their future. He’ll then show how entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial principles can be applied to enhance their personal and professional lives. 

Koe and the students will discuss risk, insecurities, motivation and what it means to be successful, as well as how life itself is actually an entrepreneurial undertaking.

“The idea is to not necessarily teach them entrepreneurship so they become business owners,” he said. “It’s more about connecting the characteristics of entrepreneurship to real life.”

To be admitted to the DHFP, faculty members submit proposals outlining the programs they would offer Schreyer students should they be chosen. For Koe, this was especially appealing because it gave him the chance to “think outside the traditional American educational system and course structure.”

“It (this program) allows those students who participate to get away from what actually got them into Schreyer in the first place — a great ability to retain and reproduce facts. What we need to do more of is challenge students to go beyond the predictable formula for ‘success,’” he said.

Koe’s experience includes more than 20 years as an entrepreneur and intrapreneur, university administrator and educator. His ongoing company, Whipple D Productions Inc., invents, designs, manufactures and sells hunting and fishing accessories.

Koe received his doctorate in educational psychology and curriculum and instruction from Penn State. Before returning to Penn State as a faculty member in the College of Engineering, Koe served as professor and chairman of the education department at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania; dean of the Baker School of Business and Technology at the Fashion Institute of Technology; associate director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at New York University’s Stern School of Business; and director of the Executive Master of Business Administration program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

As vice president of Scalamandre, a textile firm in New York City, Koe developed his first intrapreneurial venture by creating the Restoration Division with average annual sales of $3 million.

He has authored more than 20 journal articles and the book "Fabric for the Designed Interior," a comprehensive textbook for designers and architects addressing both residential and commercial fabrics. The textbook also explains the technology used in producing high-end products, some of which can sell for in excess of $1,000 a yard. The second edition, published by Bloomsbury Books, will appear in paperback and as an eBook in December 2016. It will be complemented by a two-hour video of the 110,000-square-foot vertical Scalamandre mill, an instructional New York City design center tour and a 145-piece fabric swatch kit with pick glass. 

Koe said he will use these educational, entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial experiences to teach students to push their limits and expectations about what life can be.

“I’m pleased that I can offer students entrepreneurial principles, along with my own personal experiences, for the purpose of expanding their view on how living entrepreneurially can positively affect their lives,” he said.

For more information about the DHFP of the Schreyer Honors College, visit

  • Frank Koe

    Frank Koe, associate professor engineering entrepreneurship

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 24, 2016