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Combining Discipline-specific Introduction to Engineering Courses into a Single Multidiscipline Course to Foster the Entrepreneurial Mindset with Entrepreneurially Minded Learning

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.288.1 - 24.288.30



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Paper Authors


Andrew L. Gerhart Lawrence Technological University

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Andrew Gerhart, Ph.D., is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Lawrence Technological University. He is actively involved in ASEE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He serves as a faculty adviser for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Student Chapter at LTU, chair of the First Year Engineering Experience committee, chair of the LTU KEEN course modification team and the LTU Leadership Curriculum Committee, supervisor of the LTU Thermo-Fluids Laboratory, coordinator of the certificate/minor in aeronautical engineering, and faculty adviser of the LTU SAE Aero Design Team.

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Donald D. Carpenter Lawrence Technological University

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Donald D. Carpenter, Ph.D., PE, LEED AP, is a professor of civil engineering at Lawrence Technological University, where he teaches courses on ethics/professionalism and water resources. Dr. Carpenter is an accredited green design professional (LEED AP) and practicing professional engineer (PE) whose expertise includes low-impact development, innovative stormwater best management practices, hydrologic and stormwater modeling and design, and field data collection for performance monitoring. His university appointments include serving as director of assessment from 2009 to 2012 after serving as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Learning from 2006 to 2009. In 2006, the Kern Family Foundation named Dr. Carpenter a Kern Fellow for Entrepreneurial Education, recognizing his efforts to bring innovative, team-based problem solving into the engineering curriculum to promote the entrepreneurial mind-set. He continues to serve the university and the Kern Family Foundation in this capacity.

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Robert W. Fletcher Lawrence Technological University

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Robert Fletcher joined the faculty of the mechanical engineering department at Lawrence Technological University in the summer of 2003 after two decades of industrial research and product development experience. Dr. Fletcher earned his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle, and his master of science and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, both from the University of Michigan. He teaches a number of alternative energy courses at Lawrence Tech. Because of his firm belief that the first experience students have with engineering education is critical and needs to be a challenging, engaging, and positive one, Dr. Fletcher in 2004 began actively working with other engineering faculty to reconfigure the Introduction to Engineering courses at LTU.

Dr. Fletcher and his student research team recently concluded a major study of the durability and reliability of multiple PEM fuel cells used under a wide range of operational conditions for the U.S. Army. Other research efforts include the study of solar concentrators and solar water heaters, as well as temperature effects on solar photovoltaic system performance. He also is establishing an alternative energy laboratory at Lawrence Tech.

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Eric G. Meyer Lawrence Technological University

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Dr. Eric Meyer is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Experimental Biomechanics Laboratory (EBL) at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich.

In addition to directing the EBL with the goal of advancing experimental biomechanics understanding, Dr. Meyer developed and teaches a number of courses in the biomedical engineering program. These include: Introduction to Biomechanics, Biomechanics Lab, Tissue Mechanics, Medical Imaging, Orthopedics, BME Best Practices, Intro to BME, and Fundamentals of Engineering Design Projects. Recently, the EBL partnered with ME and EE faculty to develop a “Biorobotics” facility that provides practical, hands-on experiences to students focused around the topics of sensing, perception, and control in next-generation robotics. He has published 32 peer-reviewed journal articles and was an invited speaker at the IOC World Conference on the Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Dr. Meyer is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, European Society of Biomechanics, Biomedical Engineering Society, and Tau Beta Pi.

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Combining Discipline-specific Introduction to Engineering Courses into a Single Multi-discipline course to Foster the Entrepreneurial MindsetThis paper focuses on two initiatives: fostering the entrepreneurial mindset in the first yearintroduction to engineering course and successfully combining discipline-specific courses into amulti-discipline course.While most first year introduction to engineering courses focus on design and problem solving,at the same time familiarizing the student with basic technical content, very few also focus on theentrepreneurial mindset – a way of thinking increasingly required of engineers entering theworkforce. Skills associated with the entrepreneurial mindset such as effective communication(written, verbal, and graphical), teamwork, ethics and ethical decision-making, customerawareness, persistence, creativity, innovation, time management, critical thinking, globalawareness, self-directed research, life-long learning, learning through failure, tolerance forambiguity, and estimation are as important in the workforce as technical aptitude. In fact,employer feedback has indicated that graduates with these skills are more highly sought thanthose with an overly technical education since technical engineering skills can be readilyobtained on the job; the entrepreneurial mindset takes years of practice/refinement. Althoughstudents may eventually begin practicing many entrepreneurial mindset skills in the curriculumespecially during a senior project sequence, it is paramount that the importance of theentrepreneurial mindset is stressed in the first year. This paper will include details of how tointegrate all of the skills listed here into well-established design projects, homework, and activelearning classroom modules in a first year engineering course. Direct assessment (using rubrics)and indirect assessment (using student surveys) for some of these skills reveals successfulstudent outcomes.As the lines between engineering disciplines are becoming more blurry, employers also covetengineering graduates whose technical skills span a variety of disciplines. Engineers must workon teams that are diverse, and being able to understand and communicate the broad field ofengineering is vital to success. Therefore, while completing an engineering degree, studentsneed to become familiar with a multitude of engineering disciplines and work with students frommany departments. This is not a new concept and many introduction to engineering courses areinterdisciplinary. On the other hand, many colleges still contain only discipline-specificintroduction to engineering courses. Over the past year and a half, Lawrence TechnologicalUniversity underwent a successful college-wide transition from many discipline-specificintroduction to engineering courses to a multi-discipline course. This paper will outline keys to asuccessful transition including pitfalls to avoid and working with university administrators,faculty, and staff during the transition.

Gerhart, A. L., & Carpenter, D. D., & Fletcher, R. W., & Meyer, E. G. (2014, June), Combining Discipline-specific Introduction to Engineering Courses into a Single Multidiscipline Course to Foster the Entrepreneurial Mindset with Entrepreneurially Minded Learning Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20179

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