June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
24.295.1 - 24.295.30
Comparing Engineering and Business Undergraduate Students’ Entrepreneurial Interests and CharacteristicsTechnological innovation and entrepreneurship are widely regarded as key elements to economicgrowth and the creation of new employment. Engineers are often important members, if notleaders, of the teams that make this innovation and entrepreneurship possible. It has become evenmore important for engineering graduates to not only understand business basics, but to be“flexible, resilient, creative, empathetic, and have the ability to recognize and seizeopportunities” (Byers, Seelig, Sheppard, & Weilerstein, 2013). To help engineering graduatessucceed in this environment, engineering schools are creating courses and programs focused oninnovation and entrepreneurship, sometimes drawing from business approaches in doing so.In designing these courses and programs, a critical first step is to understand the entrepreneurialinterests and characteristics of undergraduate engineering students as compared with studentsmajoring in business. Comparing these two groups of students suggests some of the ways thatbusiness-based courses might be modified for an engineering audience. In addition, someentrepreneurship programs are designed to service both engineering and business majors;understanding how these students compare in terms of entrepreneurial characteristics wouldallow for a better designed course for all students. Students’ gender and age may furtherdifferentiate engineering and business student entrepreneurship experiences, and represent keycovariates to consider.Given these propositions, the research questions guiding the present study are: (1) How doengineering students compare with their business peers on measures of entrepreneurial interestsand characteristics? (2) Do these differences vary by age cohort? (3) How does gender mediatefield and cohort differences?Study participants were 518 engineering and 471 business undergraduate students from 51 U.S.universities and colleges. Data were drawn from a comprehensive survey designed to understandentrepreneurship among young adults. Three categories of factors were measured in this survey:entrepreneurial interests, individual characteristics, and contexts. Entrepreneurial interest factorsincluded Entrepreneurial Intent, Entrepreneurship Activities, and Career Goals. Individualcharacteristic factors included Innovation Orientation, Career Values, Self-Efficacy Optimism,and Future Orientation. Contextual factors included Family, Friends, Mentoring, and Extra-Curricular Activities. Effect sizes and p-values were calculated in comparisons of student sub-groups. Linear regression was used to examine how field, cohort, gender correlate with thesefactors.Preliminary results show that business students have higher rates of entrepreneurial intentionsthan do engineering students. However, among both engineering and business students, menwere more likely than women to report entrepreneurial intentions. Moreover, among engineers,the average score on Self-Efficacy Optimism is higher for men than for women; among businessstudents, average scores on Entrepreneurship Activities and Innovation Orientation are higher formen than for women (the opposite is true of Future Orientation). Results indicate that field andgender play a role in students’ entrepreneurship interests; implications for classroom design willbe discussed.ReferenceByers, T., Seelig, T., Sheppard, S., & Weilerstein, P. (2013). Entrepreneurship: Its Role in Engineering Education. Summer Issue of The Bridge on Undergraduate Engineering Education, 43(2), 35-40.
Jin, Q., & Gilmartin, S. K., & Sheppard, S. D., & Chen, H. L. (2014, June), Comparing Engineering and Business Undergraduate Students’ Entrepreneurial Interests and Characteristics Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20186
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