New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
A first cohort of 45 freshman engineering students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology were selected for admission in fall 2014 from an applicant pool that self-identified as being interested in entrepreneurship. This coeducational group, representing approximately 8% of the incoming class of engineering students, formed a living-learning community. They were housed in a common residence, completed a series of academic courses together over the arc of their first year experience, and participated in co-curricular activities that focused on entrepreneurship. In this paper, the cohort’s first year academic performance and retention rate are compared to their incoming class. The cumulative mean grade point average for the living-learning community was greater than the comparable class (p < 0.05), accounting for potential differences based on incoming standardized test scores. Also, the retention rate was greater and statistically significant (p < 0.05) for the cohort as compared to their class. In addition, demographics of the cohort were studied, revealing a student body that was largely reflective of their class, with one notable exception. In both the first and second cohorts, there are no students in the living-learning community that have declared civil engineering as their primary major. This is unusual, because on average approximately 6-7% of the incoming class will be civil engineers. A survey instrument is employed to reveal why civil engineering students are the least likely of the engineering disciplines to join a community focused on entrepreneurship. The paper concludes with a discussion of lessons learned and best practices from the first year, highlighting a new peer mentoring program that is under development to provide a bridge between successive cohorts and to create a sustainable organizational structure that is both student led and tied to the entrepreneurship club that has existed on campus for several years.
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