CIE Faculty Fellow Spotlight: Ahmed Deif

by: Lauren Arendt

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Faculty Fellows exist at Cal Poly to help foster entrepreneurship throughout the Cal Poly campus by connecting with students across multiple disciplines. One of these education innovators, Ahmed Deif, incorporates not only entrepreneurship and innovation into his industrial technology classes but games, too.

Ahmed Deif works as an assistant professor of industrial technology and packaging in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. He first became interested in becoming a CIE Faculty Fellow when he realized that the marriage between business and engineering that industrial technology embodied was similar to the marriage between technical thinking and business found in entrepreneurship.

The classes revolve around creating a hands-on approach to educating that gets students excited about innovation in supply chains and the new trend in transforming supply chains from cost centers to value centers.

Deif achieves this lofty goal through gamification or creating games out of otherwise less engaging lesson plans. He said that he uses this strategy because, statistically, using the hands allows students to access untapped knowledge otherwise impossible to reach.

“Instead of just speaking for two hours and getting [the students] bored and sleepy, I introduce the problem for 10 to 15 minutes and then we play a game,” said Deif. “This robust education approach keeps students very engaged.”

A graduate student in the Cal Poly MBA program, as well as a student in one of Deif’s innovative industrial technologies classes, Christiaan de Nysschen, agreed that the gamification approach creates a more interactive and engaging educational experience.

“One reason I would recommend this course and this professor is first of all the unconventional approach,” said Nysschen. “Case studies are the norm in other classes which is nice, but also very theory-based where the games incorporate a new element with something that is both memorable and applicable.”

Deif said that there is one problem that comes with introducing games into the classroom: over enrollment. Students have heard about these game-centric courses and enroll in his classes in large numbers. He now has a cap on many of his courses.

While Deif introduces innovation and entrepreneurship at the intersection between business and engineering, numerous other CIE Faculty Fellows bring the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation to their fields of study across all six colleges at Cal Poly. Learn more about the impact these CIE Faculty Fellows have on the Cal Poly community, as well as how to become a CIE Faculty Fellow here.