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Board 274: Engineering Students Definitions of and Perceptions of Entrepreneurial Failure

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Conference

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

20

DOI

10.18260/1-2--42736

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/42736

Download Count

126

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Paper Authors

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

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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.

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Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Sarah Zappe is Director of the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education and Assistant Dean of Teaching and Learning at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement.

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Cade Robert Creason California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Cade Creason is a Research Assistant of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). He received a bachelor's degree in psychology and ethnic studies with a minor in entrepreneurship, in addition to studying international marketing at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. He co-founded a luxury adventure travel start-up and works as a Senior Consultant for the Mustang Consulting firm. He is interested in entrepreneurial identity, teamwork behavior, and negotiation strategy.

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Abstract

Entrepreneurial education has been rapidly expanding within universities over the past 15 years with colleges of engineering being amongst the most active participants in embedding entrepreneurship into curricular and cocurricular activities (Pittaway & Cope, 2007). Well-developed and theoretically grounded educational interventions have been shown to increase entrepreneurial skills and perception among students. (Pittaway & Cope, 2007; Matlay & Caray, 2007; Duval-Couetil & Wheadon, 2013; Duval-Couetil & Rheed-Roads, 2012). Organizations including the National Science Foundation through the Lean Launch Curriculum and I-Corps program, VentureWell through curriculum development grants and their E-Team program, and the Kern Family Foundation through the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN) have provided significant funding to embed and transform entrepreneurial teaching and practice into colleges of engineering (Matthew et al., 2017; Pistrui, Blessing & Mekemson, 2008; Smith et al. 2017). This activity combines with an added emphasis among engineering programs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset among their engineering students with the belief that this will lead to them being more productive and innovative whether their career path leads them into established industry (becoming “intrapreneurs”) or later as entrepreneurs. While this trend toward developing more entrepreneurially minded engineering students is supported by global economic trends and a rapidly changing work environment, one factor has been largely overlooked in this process. Statistically, most entrepreneurial ventures fail, with disproportionately large value being created from a minority of entrepreneurial endeavors (Coats, 2019). Given this fact, until we find ways to drastically increase the success rate of entrepreneurial ventures, as we increase engineering students’ exposure to entrepreneurship, we are also increasing their exposure to failure very early in their careers. With this exposure, it is unknown whether sufficient preparation and education around project/venture failure is occurring to properly equip entrepreneurially minded engineering students to learn and grow from entrepreneurial failure. It’s also not clear that these relatively young entrepreneurs define and perceive failure in the same context as is traditionally described in entrepreneurial literature. In this work, we look to understand how engineering students who started entrepreneurial ventures while affiliated with their university define failure and their perceptions of failures that they experienced throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Participants were selected based on them having received greater than $5,000 for their venture through competitions, grants, or investment. Interviews were conducted with each of the individuals and their responses on their definition of failure and experiences they perceived to be failures were compared with definitions of failure found in existing entrepreneurial literature.

This work was generously supported by the National Science Foundation Research Initiation in Engineering Formation program through Award #2024570.

Katona, T. M., & Zappe, S. E., & Creason, C. R. (2023, June), Board 274: Engineering Students Definitions of and Perceptions of Entrepreneurial Failure Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42736

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