June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
15.241.1 - 15.241.9
Bringing Innovation and the Entrepreneurial Mindset (Back) Into Engineering: the KEEN Innovators Program
The U.S. economy has gone from being a predominantly innovation-based economy to being a predominantly service-based economy. Historically, this is not a trend that can sustain a nation, and this is especially apparent in the face of the economic downturn in recent years. The challenge is how to bring innovation back into the engineering disciplines, when many of our faculty have never worked in industry, and so are not necessarily aware of the complex and multi-faceted problems faced by industry. The Kern Family Foundation has made it possible, through the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN), to help engineering faculty catch the vision of the need to inculcate innovation into all phases of the engineering coursework, through the KEEN Innovators Program at Baylor University. The charter Innovators have participated in several KEEN meetings and Regional Conferences, finished a sponsored summer of research into best methods of deploying the entrepreneurial mindset into their courses, and helped coordinate the selection and continuation of the 2010 Innovators.
This paper will present the background of the program, the assessment of the first year of the program and its impact on student learning, and future expansion of the program. We will also discuss lessons learned and best practices, including the necessity of working across disciplinary boundaries and the importance of administrative support.
Billy Vaughn Koen in his book, “Discussion of the Method,” describes the process of engineering as finding the best change within limited resources in an environment of uncertainty. 1 He provides two examples. Both the statements
1. “The chess master engineered the perfect countermove”, and 2. “The clergy in Iran engineered the firing of the president”,
use the word “engineered” as a verb. In both cases, he argues, the word is used correctly because it describes the determination of the best course of action among many possible ones, constrained by limited resources, in an environment of uncertainty where not all the information required is known at the beginning.
Entrepreneurship, then, could be described as “business engineering” and therefore fits quite naturally within the engineering curricula.
The challenge to reinvigorate the engineering curricula has been recognized by the National Academy of Engineering, the Taskforce on Graduate Engineering, and industry and academia leaders in STEM fields. G.P. Peterson presented a seminar at the 2007 ABET Annual Meeting that outlined the challenges facing engineering and computer science educators.2 He states that the challenges are enormous because we are preparing students for future jobs that may not
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