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A Pedagogical Approach for Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Engineering Students

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

New Developments in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Salman Mohagheghi Colorado School of Mines

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Salman Mohagheghi received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA in 2006. Currently, he is an Associate Professor at the Electrical Engineering Department at Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, USA. Prior to that, he was a Senior Research and Development Engineer at ABB Corporate Research Center, Raleigh, NC, USA. His research focuses on situational awareness, power grid resilience against natural and manmade hazards, communication networks for utility and industrial automation, and data analytics.

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Today’s modern technology-centric world faces unique challenges that need forward-looking and transformational, rather than incremental, solutions. Solving these challenges requires training a new generation of engineering students who are innovative and risk-takers and think beyond traditional engineering approaches. While many institutions of higher education offer courses and programs that are specifically designed with this goal in mind, developing an entrepreneurial mindset can in theory become an integral part of most, if not all, engineering courses at the graduate and senior undergraduate levels. This can be achieved by teaching the students two skillsets: the ability to interpret a given real-life situation using fundamental engineering concepts and the expertise to develop a risk management strategy to conduct an entrepreneurial project. The goal of this paper is to propose pedagogical solutions that can target both these aspects. The author has developed relevant micro-insertions and course projects that have been adopted in two senior undergraduate courses: “introduction to linear feedback systems” and “data science for electrical engineering.” The objectives behind these exercises have been to teach the students to analyze a given situation, develop a solution, craft a value proposition, seek and incorporate input from beneficiaries, develop a prototype and finally, build a proper business model that can help them put the associated risk factors into a proper framework. First, active and collaborative learning activities are designed to trigger the students’ curiosity and allow them to develop technical or societal insight into realistic engineering problems. By specifying problem scenarios that are ambiguous and not-well-defined, students learn to look for subtle clues in real-life situations and make connections between those and the technical concepts they learn in class. Second, entrepreneurial course projects are designed to help the students learn how to take a new idea from inception to full development. Despite having novel and interesting ideas ready to be taken to the next level, many students are often discouraged or intimidated by what they see as a daunting road ahead. Getting proper training may not reduce the risks associated with an entrepreneurial endeavor, but it can certainly change the way the students assess and manage those risks. The full paper will present the solutions developed as well as the analysis of the outcomes in the form of pre-test and post-test assessments.

Mohagheghi, S. (2020, June), A Pedagogical Approach for Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34031

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