The list of “Family Feud” hosts includes Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson and Steve Harvey.

Could John DesJardins be next?


Pictured from left to right are Delphine Dean, John DesJardins and Bre Przestrzelski.

The Clemson University associate professor of bioengineering hosted his own version of the TV game show when engineering deans from across the country gathered on Kiawah Island for their annual conference.

DesJardins used his version of the show to kick off a presentation about how deans, students and faculty members can support entrepreneurship and innovation programs on campuses. He was joined on stage by Clemson Ph.D. candidate Bre Przestrzelski.

They were among nine speakers during a one-hour session devoted to entrepreneurship and innovation. The ideas circulated could influence engineering education nationwide.

DesJardins picked a group from the audience and named it the “Dean family.”

“I think you know how this works,” he said. “We actually did a survey of 100 people, and these are actual results.”

The survey question was a little more specific than what Dawson or Harvey might ask: “Name something that your Dean can do to assist in developing a successful (innovation and entrepreneurship) initiative on your campus.”

The first member of the Dean family to answer was Eugene V. Cilento, a dean from West Virginia University.

“Provide funding,” he said.


It wasn’t verbatim, but close enough. Money was the No. 1 answer. Others were courses/training, space/resources, incentives/recognition, influence/power, mentors/connections, internships/scholarships and vision/champion.

After “Family Feud,” Przestrzelski gave a few examples from Clemson of what the deans could do upon returning to campus.

They included: the University Innovation Fellows Program; the Pathways to Innovation Program; The Design and Entrepreneurship Network; freshmen entrepreneurship courses; the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Living-Learning Community; the Entrepreneurship and Innovation College Taskforce; LemonADE Stand; and 3 Day Start-up.

The session was part of the annual conference of The American Society for Engineering Education’s Engineering Deans Institute. (Skip to about 48:10 in the video to see “Family Feud.”)

Also during the entrepreneurship and innovation session:

  • Richard B. Brown, dean of engineering at The University of Utah, talked about what has worked there.
  • Paul Slusser told the crowd about Power Practical, a company that he co-founded and was featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
  • Phil Weilerstein, president of Venture Well, gave an overview of I-Corps, a program created by the National Science Foundation to take academic research it has funded to market.
  • Clemson University graduate Riley Csernica showed how I-Corps helped her co-found Tarian Orthotics, a medical device company.
  • Katherine Banks, the dean of engineering at Texas A&M, outlined a program that connects students with product end-users and the factors that influence female participation in entrepreneurship companies.
  • Melinda McClure, a senior chemical engineering major at Texas A&M, said it’s important to engage women while they are in college to get them into the workforce.

The session was sponsored by SCRA and organized by Brown and Thomas Byers, director and co-principal investigator at  National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), Stanford University.