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A Complementary Approach to Implementing Entrepreneurship into a Mechanical Engineering Senior Capstone Course Sequence

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Nathan John Washuta P.E. The Citadel Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Nathan Washuta is an Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. He received both his B.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Maryland – College Park. His primary research interests include Hydrodynamics, Free Surface Flows, and Experimental Methods.

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Patrick Bass The Citadel Orcid 16x16

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Patrick Bass is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Citadel, in Charleston, SC. He received his B.S. degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, in 2005, his M.E. degree in space operations from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO, in 2009, and his Ph.D. in materials engineering from Auburn University, Auburn, AL, in 2016. His main areas of research interest are electroactive polymers and space mechanics.

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The exposure of students to entrepreneurship in an engineering context provides a range of valuable skills as they transition into their eventual careers. While not every student will start their own company and take on the role of entrepreneur, the ability to communicate ideas, innovate in product design, and generate value to all stakeholders are skills that are broadly applicable to a wide variety of engineering career paths, and these skills are mirrored in ABET student outcomes. As a project-based course focused on product development, a senior capstone course provides the perfect opportunity to implement teaching methods that emphasize the entrepreneurial aspects of engineering.

The present study attempts to incorporate numerous individual entrepreneurship modules to increase the scope and engagement of engineering entrepreneurship typically offered by any one of these exercises, while still retaining the benefits of modular implementation. The benefit of these individual modules is that they are self-contained and can be easily implemented into an existing course. In contrast to larger programmatic implementations, these small-scale modules are lower in cost and complexity, but also tend to focus on fewer aspects of entrepreneurship and are not necessarily reinforced by the surrounding course content.

This paper discusses the implementation of a number of engineering entrepreneurship exercises and activities into a mechanical engineering senior capstone course sequence. These modules take the form of 1) an e-learning module, 2) a series of guest lectures, and 3) a business competition. These modules were implemented for the first time in the 2018-19 academic year across a two-semester senior capstone course. In this implementation, the e-learning module and initial guest lectures preceded the initial business competition rounds in order to encourage and support student teams in their efforts to develop and communicate their business startup ideas, with the ultimate goal being the encouragement of engineering entrepreneurship. Student perceptions and self-assessment results are presented in order to quantify the effects of combining multiple business modules into a single course sequence.

Washuta, N. J., & Bass, P. (2019, June), A Complementary Approach to Implementing Entrepreneurship into a Mechanical Engineering Senior Capstone Course Sequence Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31947

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