Office of the Dean
Phone: (208) 885-6470
Fax: (208) 885-6645
Janssen Engineering (JEB)
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1011
Moscow, ID 83844-1011
Contact Denise Engebrecht
Phone: (208) 364-6123
Fax: (208) 364-3160
Idaho Water Center
322 E. Front Street
Boise, ID 83702
Contact Debbie Caudle
Phone: (208) 282-7983
Fax: (208) 282-7929
1776 Science Center Drive, Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402
Karen L. Higgins
B.S. Mathematics 1972
M.S. Electrical Engineering 1974
Karen Higgins earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics in 1972 and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 1974 from the University of Idaho. She continued her education at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, where she received a MBA and PhD in Executive Management.
Higgins retired in 2005 after an exceptional 32-year career at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), in China Lake and Point Mugu, California. China Lake, in California’s Mojave Desert, is home to NAWCWD where few areas in the world offer such a wide variety of geographical features in close proximity...mountains, deserts, canyons, caves and forests. The unencroached air and land ranges at China Lake provide unmatched geographic conditions in which to develop and test weapon systems and explore tactics for desert and mountain environments. China Lake is a leader in RDT&E of guided missiles, advanced weapons and weapon systems. Through 50 years of unparalleled products it is a world leader in complex weapon systems and software integration, a world leader in energetic materials and subsystems, developed the Sidewinder missile (the world’s premiere dog-fight weapon) used by 31 countries and has unique world-class facilities and test ranges.
For over 10 years, Higgins served in first, second and third line management for various technical departments, divisions and branches of the NAWCWD. For seven years Higgins was the project manager for the Sidewinder missile and responsible for an organization-wide communication system. She worked for over 8 years in software design and was a system engineer for complex real-time integrated weapons systems.
From 1997 to 2005 Higgins served in the U.S. Navy Senior Executive Service; 7.5 years as the Executive Director and Director for Research and Engineering at NAWCWD. She oversaw China Lake’s $1 Billion budget, $2.8 Billion in facilities (more than 2,000 buildings) and more than 1.1 million acres (larger than Rhode Island) that China Lake encompasses. Higgins was responsible for NAWCWD China Lake’s 5,000 civilian personnel.
During her time at NAWCWD she was involved in strategic planning and organizational change, and did extensive external interface and mentoring In 2006, Higgins started her own company, Élan Leadership Concepts, that is a management consulting company that assesses organizational functionality and leadership, and provides training courses like, “The Art & Science of Leadership “ and “Morality and Leadership.” This includes project software that allows a company to streamline employee collaboration, reduce the complexity of managing teams, projects and tasks and enjoy unparalleled visibility into the midoffice workflow. Higgins continues to serve as its president today.
Karen is also currently an Adjunct Professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatochi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University where she teaches: Adaptive Management Systems; Project Management: A Systems Perspective to multi-national Exec MBA and PhD students; The Art and Science of Project Management to multi-national MBA students; Morality and Leadership to multi-national Executive MBA and PhD students and The Drucker Difference and Systems Thinking to multi-national MBA students.
Higgins has several publications and is a member of the following societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi Research Society and the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society. She received the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, the Presidential Rank Award, the OSD Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service and the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the highest civilian award.
Higgins remembers Dr. Gary Maki, her U of I professor who talked her into majoring in electrical engineering. She says that he completely changed her life.