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Ben Owens

Ben Owens

Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Engineer

Ben Owens spent 20 years as an engineer in manufacturing and R&D facilities across the United States. This career allowed him to see first-hand the significant need to improve our approaches to education, especially in the STEM arena, so that students have the success skills needed to thrive in our global, innovation economy. This formative experience ultimately led him to leave the corporate world and become a public school teacher in the rural Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina. 

Ben taught physics and math at Tri-County Early College for 11 years, where he was able to not only refine his teaching craft, but also help the school garner international recognition for the school’s unique approach to community-facing experiential learning (a wall-to-wall PBL school); its student-centered, teacher-powered governance; and its innovative approach to competency-based education. 

To share and scale these innovations and insights, Ben co-authored the book “Open Up, Education!and then left the classroom in 2018 to startup Open Way Learning, an education nonprofit focused on helping schools create the cultural conditions to allow authentic learner-centered innovation to thrive. He and the OWL team use open, libertory design thinking to help schools catalyze local skills and knowledge to co-design, implement, refine, and scale powerful teaching & learning approaches so that they are no longer just fads, but are baked into the school’s cultural DNA.

Ben was the recipient of the 2017 Bridging the Gap Distinguished Teacher in STEM Education; the 2016 North Carolina Center for Science, Mathematics, & Technology Outstanding 9-16 Educator Award; was a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council; and a 2014 Hope Street Group National Teaching Fellow. He has been a routine “Community TA” for the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, is an Open Organization Ambassador with; a HundrED Ambassador; and former National Faculty member with PBLWorks. You can follow him on Twitter at @engineerteacher.

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