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A Longitudinal Study Of Retention And Grade Performance Of Participants In An Engineering Entrepreneurs Program

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment of Entrepreneurship Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.64.1 - 8.64.19



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Paper Authors

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Thomas K. Miller

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Catherine E. Brawner

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Guili Zhang

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


A Longitudinal Study of Retention and Grade Performance of Participants in an Engineering Entrepreneurs Program

Matthew W. Ohland, Clemson University Guili Zhang, University of Florida Catherine E. Brawner, Research Triangle Educational Consultants Thomas K. Miller, III, North Carolina State University


The Engineering Entrepreneurs Program at North Carolina State University is a program in which undergraduate students participate in design teams formed around corporate technology start-up company themes. Through funding from the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED (Southeastern Universities and Colleges Coalition for Engineering EDucation) Coalition, the Entrepreneurs Program aims to retain student interest in engineering by exposing undergraduate students to the design process early in their academic careers and by providing upper class students as mentors. Secondly, it seeks to teach students “real-world” skills such as teamwork, leadership, and the dynamics of entrepreneurship.

Multiple approaches to assessment—qualitative means such as surveys and focus groups as well as quantitative methods such as longitudinal assessment of retention and GPA—triangulate on the benefit of the program. The design of program is discussed, so that it may serve as a model program. This model should be of value to anyone who is interested in providing vertically integrated, multidisciplinary, practice-based engineering design experiences.

Entrepreneurship and teaching

Between 1980 and 1988, during which time the Fortune 500 companies lost in excess of 3.5 million jobs, 17 million new employment positions were created by entrepreneurship start-up enterprises. Then, in 1990 alone, 500,000 businesses were founded by self-employed entrepreneurs.1 Today, nearly 50 percent of the growth in the US economy can be explained by entrepreneurial activity.2 These impressive statistics make a strong case for entrepreneurship as one way to drive economic growth.

Since “real world” economic success requires both technical feasibility and economic viability, an engineering curriculum that integrates both aspects could therefore be of considerable value.3 Also, of the over 200,000 graduates of college engineering and science programs each year, a growing proportion are finding employment in small businesses and start-up ventures – the type of environment that requires “a new type of engineer, an entrepreneurial engineer, who needs a broad range of skills and knowledge above and beyond a strong science and engineering background.”4

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Miller, T. K., & Brawner, C. E., & Ohland, M., & Zhang, G. (2003, June), A Longitudinal Study Of Retention And Grade Performance Of Participants In An Engineering Entrepreneurs Program Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11974

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