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Bending Moments to Business Models: Integrating an Entrepreneurship Case Study as Part of Core Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Case Studies in Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.242.1 - 23.242.20



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Paper Authors


Mark Schar Stanford University

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MARK SCHAR works in the Center for Design Research - Designing Education Lab at Stanford University. He is also a member of the Symbiotic Project of Affective Neuroscience Lab at Stanford University and a Lecturer in the School of Engineering. Dr. Schar's area of research is “pivot thinking” which is the intersection of design thinking and the neuroscience of choice where he has several research projects underway. He has a 30 year career in industry as a Vice President with The Procter & Gamble Company and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer with Intuit in Silicon Valley. Dr. Schar has a BSS from Northwestern University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and his PhD is from Stanford University.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Dr. Sheppard is a professor at Stanford University, teaching courses in engineering design and solid mechanics. Her research is in the areas of structural integrity and engineering learning. Her graduate work was at the Univ. of Michigan, and prior to being at Stanford she worked in the automotive industry.

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Samantha Ruth Brunhaver Stanford University

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Samantha Brunhaver is a fifth year graduate student at Stanford University. She is currently working on her PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in engineering education. Samantha completed a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2008 and a MS in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Design for Manufacturing from Stanford in 2010.

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Mark Cuson

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Mark Cuson is a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. After several education related jobs in the past, he decided to spend the summer after his freshman year working on engineering education, specifically Stanford’s Introduction to Solid Mechanics, E14. In addition to the Longboard Lab & Case Study, Mark worked on a series of online vector math tutorials to ease the transition into E14.

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Michelle Marie Grau Stanford University

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Madison Longboard: Incorporating an Entrepreneurship Case Study within Core Mechanical Engineering CurriculumIt is apparent from reports like The Engineer of 2020 that an engineer’s education would benefitfrom instruction in entrepreneurship. Traditional engineering curriculum leaves little time forextra coursework. A recent survey of 110 U.S.-based engineering programs showed that lessthat 20% “routinely practice” any type of business or entrepreneurship activity [1]. In general,engineering faculty has not embraced the teaching of entrepreneurship; only 16.5% routinelyengage engineering students in entrepreneurship [1]. This stands in contrast with studentexpectations; 82% of engineering students agreed with the statement “entrepreneurship educationcan broaden my career prospects and choices” [2].In this study we explore the benefits and challenges of integrating entrepreneurship into coreengineering curriculum. This is accomplished by combining a business school-style case studyfeaturing a realistic entrepreneurial scenario with a typical engineering lab. “MadisonLongboard” chronicles two engineering students as they start a company that makes skateboardsspecialized for marathon competition. The case study introduces several entrepreneurialconcepts, such as business models, mission statements, and SWOT analysis, in the context ofproduct development that requires calculation of static forces that lead to design and sourcingdecisions. Two engineering labs on forces, moments, and shear stresses support the ability toresolve the business problem presented in the case study.The case study and labs will be integrated into a 10-week, 20-session introductory solidmechanics course at a western private university in fall quarter 2012. The case study will bediscussed during two of the ten lectures and labs will be two of the seven labs conducted duringthe quarter. A pre-post survey (estimated n = 80) will be administered around each lecture/lab toassess learning of both the engineering and entrepreneurship concepts.We hypothesize that this specific case study approach will deliver a thorough understanding ofthe core engineering concepts and a significant increase in understanding of basic entrepreneurialconcepts. This will be measured through a survey that reflects the principles of Social CognitiveCareer Theory where learning experiences influence both self-efficacy and outcomeexpectations, which in turn influence career interest. Self-efficacy will be measured through pre-post student assessment of confidence in undertaking entrepreneurial tasks. Outcomeexpectations will be measured through pre-post student assessment of career expectations. Coresolid mechanics learning will be measured with the Statics Concept Inventory assessment.This pilot curriculum will determine if entrepreneurial concepts can be incorporated intoengineering curriculum without compromising the learning of core engineering concepts. Thedevelopment and delivery of this curriculum has proven to be challenging, as it requires an in-depth understanding of the core engineering concepts, an understanding of relevantentrepreneurial concepts, and the ability to tell an engaging story.[1] Jamieson L. H., and Lohmann J. R., 2012, Innovation with Impact: Creating a Culture for Scholarly and Systematic Innovation in Engineering Education, American Society for Engineering Education, Washington DC.[2] Duval-Couetil N., Reed-Rhoads T., and Haghighi S., 2012, “Engineering Students and Entrepreneurship Education: Involvement, Attitudes and Outcomes,” International Journal of Engineering Education, 28(2), p. 425.

Schar, M., & Sheppard, S., & Brunhaver, S. R., & Cuson, M., & Grau, M. M. (2013, June), Bending Moments to Business Models: Integrating an Entrepreneurship Case Study as Part of Core Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19256

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