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Bringing "Real World Business" Into The Classroom: Introducing Entrepreneurship To Engineering And Technology Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship Division Poster Sessions

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.287.1 - 11.287.8



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Paper Authors


Philip Rufe Eastern Michigan University

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Mr. Philip Rufe is an Instructor of Manufacturing Engineering Technology at Eastern Michigan University. He is a certified Manufacturing Engineer and a registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a patent agent. He is the program coordinator of the Manufacturing Technology and Manufacturing Engineering Technology programs. He is also heavily involved with the Center for Product Reseach and Development at Eastern Michigan University.

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Gary Rodak Eastern Michigan University

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Gary Rodak, President of Machining Efficiencies, Inc. (BSME - New Jersey Institute of Technology, CMfgE) has been focused on machining process improvements for over 30 years. With a background in tool design, tool wear analysis, metalworking fluid development, chemical management systems, machining processes technical support, business development manager and quality system lead auditor, Mr. Rodak has successfully guided numerous companies towards higher profitability. He is a frequent speaker at SME technology clinics on topics relating to practical approaches to improving machining processes.

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Scott Pollock Eastern Michigan University

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Scott Pollock has 17 years of industrial experience. He is currently a senior project engineer at TRW Automotive in Farmington Hills Michigan. He has participated in the development of occupant weight sensors utilizing strain gage technology. He has also developed, designed, manufactured and tested fastening configurations for weight sensing applications. He has also worked for Electronic Data Systems (EDS), Walker Manufacturing, and General Motors Corporation. Scott holds an Associate degree in Design/Drafting from Alfred State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied technology from Eastern Michigan University.

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Mary Finkel Eastern Michigan University

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Mary Finkel has acquired over ten years of manufacturing experience while working as a Manufacturing Technologist at S-3 Engineering in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing Technology from Eastern Michigan University, graduating Cum Laude in December of 2004; and was awarded an Excellence in Manufacturing scholarship. She is a member of various professional societies such as Society of Automotive Engineers, Society of Plastics Engineers, the Engineering Society of Detroit and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers - from which she earned her Manufacturing Technologist Certification. She is currently a Manufacturing Engineer at Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance in Dundee, MI.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Bringing “Real World Business” into the Classroom: Introducing Entrepreneurship to Technical Students


What is the difference between engineers and entrepreneurs? Historically, on some level, there has been a difference. However, with a growing global economy and feverish foreign competition the roles of engineer and entrepreneur have merged. For a variety of reasons many engineering and technical academic programs have not embraced the merger of engineer and entrepreneur. Consequently many engineers and technicians have a steep learning curve when they begin their careers. They do not fully understand or appreciate how the manufacturing enterprise works and how the engineering function integrates with the enterprise. As a consequence engineers become disconnected from the many non-engineering aspects of the manufacturing enterprise.

In general, new graduates lack the ability to create opportunities and take advantage of them. Climbing the “corporate ladder” is not a possibility anymore. When an organization is operating in a "lean" state, there is no ladder to climb since there is no higher level to attain. To build a successful career, engineers need to become “rock climbers”, i.e. think like an entrepreneur and adopt an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Manufacturing Engineering Technology program at Eastern Michigan University provides technical students with an education that merges engineering technology and entrepreneurship. A required a three-course capstone sequence emulates the product realization journey of a small business. The first course in the sequence develops a product concept, the second course plans its production and the last course actually produces and sells the product.

The capstone sequence is a valuable experience for the students. The development of a product from conception through to production helps them realize how strongly engineering decisions affect the enterprise as a whole.

The goals of this presentation are to identify why entrepreneurship is important for engineers, discuss the pedagogy of teaching engineers and technicians about entrepreneurship, and discuss how the Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program at Eastern Michigan University merges entrepreneurship and engineering technology education.

In addition to the author, there are several coauthors, with varying backgrounds, providing their perspective of entrepreneurship in engineering and technology education.


How entrepreneurial are new engineering graduates? Why is it important for engineers to be entrepreneurial? How can schools incorporate entrepreneurship into engineering education? How can engineers be entrepreneurial in the workplace?

Rufe, P., & Rodak, G., & Pollock, S., & Finkel, M. (2006, June), Bringing "Real World Business" Into The Classroom: Introducing Entrepreneurship To Engineering And Technology Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--84

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: © 2006 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