Asee peer logo

A Systematic Review of Student Entrepreneurial Failure in Engineering Education

Download Paper |


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

ENT Division Technical Session: Entrepreneurship and IP

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Thomas M. Katona California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

visit author page

Thomas Katona is an Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). He works in the BioMedical Engineering Department and has a joint appointment in the Orfalea College of Business. Before joining Cal Poly, he worked in startup companies in the LED and LED lighting industry. His roles in industry included leading product development teams, business development, and marketing.

He received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara, studying with the inventor of the blue and white LED, and an MBA from the University of South Carolina, Moore School of Business.

visit author page


Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Dr. Sarah Zappe is Research Associate and Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement and testing. In her position, Sarah is responsible for developing instructional support programs for faculty, providing evaluation support for educational proposals and projects, and working with faculty to publish educational research. Her research interests primarily involve creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship education.

visit author page


Joe Tranquillo Bucknell University

visit author page

Joe Tranquillo is a professor at Bucknell University where he currently serves as the Director of the Teaching and Learning Center. He was the second hire in a new biomedical engineering program, which has since grown to 7 faculty, 70 students, gained accreditation and has been ranked three times in a row as the number one undergraduate biomedical engineering program by US News and World Report. At Bucknell he co-founded the Bucknell Innovation Group, KEEN Winter Interdisciplinary Design Experience and served as the co-director of the Institute for Leadership in Technology and Management. Off campus, he is a National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Fellow, Senior Fellow of IEEE, NSF Pathways to Innovation Faculty Fellow, past chair of the ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division, current chair of the ASEE Interdivisional Committee, past co-editor of the Morgan and Claypool Biomedical Engineering Book Series, Media Director for BigBeacon and serves on several national and international boards.

He has been recognized with several awards including two National Biomedical Engineering Teaching Awards, The national KEEN outstanding faculty award, and has been nominated twice for the CASE US Professor of the Year. Joe is the author of four books and his work, conducted exclusively with undergraduates, has been feature on the Discovery Channel, TEDx and CNN Health. He has received funded from NASA, NIH, NSF, Kern Family Foundation, VentureWell Foundation, Degenstein Foundation, and the US Department of Defense. He has delivered intensive teaching workshops throughout in the United States and internationally, including Finland, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and the United Kingdom. Joe earned his BS from Trinity College, his PhD from Duke, is a visiting faculty member at the Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago and was a visiting scholar at the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (University of Utah) and Stanford Technology Ventures Program.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This paper specifically focuses on a systematic review of research on and pedagogical methods related to failure within the context of undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurial engineering curriculum and programming. The article examines the basis for, methods to teach, and research being done to support the commonly held and repeated beliefs that students learn through failure, entrepreneurs need to persist through failure, and we need to teach our students to fail fast and fail forward. Systematic reviews of literature enable fields to collate research findings, highlight areas of interest and research activity, summarize areas where various viewpoints and research results are being debated, and identify potential areas of interest for further work to advance a particular field. Systematic reviews also provide a succinct opportunity to summarize the state of the art in a field, providing researchers a base of foundational work to support future advances in the field. Given the rapid increase and interest within colleges of engineering in introducing and exposing students to entrepreneurial curriculum and experiences, and the corresponding increase in research and publication in this space, it is timely to pursue systematic reviews on entrepreneurship within engineering education.

While the importance of learning from failure is often repeated in the literature, this article highlights a glaring lack of research on the topic within the context of engineering education, and pedagogical approaches that are being used to attempt to teach students these concepts.

Katona, T. M., & Zappe, S. E., & Tranquillo, J. (2020, June), A Systematic Review of Student Entrepreneurial Failure in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34067

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015