June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
13.265.1 - 13.265.23
Building an Entrepreneurial Engineering Ecosystem for Future Generations: The Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network Abstract The integration of entrepreneurship and innovation into undergraduate engineering education has been found to enhance student performance and improve retention rates (Ohland, 2004). It also prepares graduating engineers to work in rapidly changing environments defined by a competitive global marketplace. Industry is asking for engineers with better communication and teamwork skills, and most importantly, a broader understanding of how to solve real world problems and create value in the marketplace. While some engineering schools are beginning to integrate entrepreneurship and business concepts into the curriculum, many ABET-accredited schools are slow to react to the needs of industry and the marketplace.
Recognizing that this problem is threatening the quality of U.S. engineering talent, the Kern Family Foundation established the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) with the mission to create an action-oriented, entrepreneurial mindset among engineering, science and technical undergraduates. The KEEN initiative, launched in 2005, represents a new and unique entrepreneurial approach to improving undergraduate education in the U.S.
This paper shows how building an entrepreneurial ecosystem within and among engineering schools, as exemplified by KEEN, will provide a strong foundation for graduating engineers entering organizations operating in an innovation-based economy. Ecosystems can be defined as environments with interconnected relationships influenced by a variety of factors. An entrepreneurial ecosystem links people by vision, commitment, passion, and innovation surrounding the achievement of a common goal.
The paper has five objectives: (1) establish the need for an innovative and entrepreneurial talent pool coming out of U.S. engineering schools; (2) identify critical skills and abilities that can be taught to fulfill this need; (3) describe KEEN from its inception, documenting how new and innovative entrepreneurship-based undergraduate engineering education programs evolve and take shape; (4) provide an overview and general assessment of the types of programs KEEN schools are developing and the impact the KEEN initiative is having on advancing undergraduate engineering, science and technical education; and (5) present a new, staged continuum model of entrepreneurship education that will be used to further develop and assess each school’s KEEN program impact and sustainability.
The findings include a series of real world examples and ideas of how to develop new and valuable educational programs and activities that better prepare undergraduate students to work in established enterprises, emerging businesses and start-ups.
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