June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.407.1 - 12.407.8
Converting Engineering Faculty to Educators of Entrepreneurs
Including concepts of entrepreneurship in an engineering education is nothing new. It would be difficult to find a university that does not offer several courses or specific programs in entrepreneurship. However, finding large numbers of engineering programs that have fully incorporated entrepreneurship into their undergraduate engineering curricula is a far greater challenge. With the growth of outsourcing and global competition, it is imperative that engineering faculty be more than just educators of technically competent engineers. It is important that they be educators of entrepreneurs. This paper will describe a workshop that took initial steps to convince engineering faculty of the importance of educating engineering entrepreneurs and integrating entrepreneurship into an engineering curriculum. It will describe the workshop agenda, the assessment process used to measure if there was a change in faculty attitude, and the preliminary assessment results.
How often do engineering students add features to a design because they believe the features to be innovative or important, and not because the client asked for or needed the features? Are the students encouraged to include the innovations to stretch their design skills or are they discouraged because they are not part of the specifications? The answer is probably both. Engineering faculty members want, and need, their students to demonstrate that they, the students, have learned engineering skills; that they are able to design to meet a customer’s needs. Yet, should the students not be asked to stretch and explain how the client can capitalize on the new and innovative features; should the students be encouraged to be entrepreneurial? In general, engineering faculty members believe that teaching entrepreneurship is a sound idea; however, including it as an integral part of an engineering education is another story. How does one approach changing from educators of competent engineers, or what Carol Steiner refers to as “technipreneurs,” 1 to educators of engineering entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship in an engineering education is nothing new. Durgin and Zwiep describe the entrepreneurial aspects of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) engineering programs dating back to 1865 2 and other engineering programs that integrate entrepreneurship into their curricula can be found.3,4 However, those programs are currently the exception, and finding an ABET-accredited engineering program that includes entrepreneurship as an integral part of its program educational objectives is unusual. A review of the program educational objectives of the 42 ABET-accredited biomedical engineering programs reveals that only two specifically include entrepreneurship as part of their program educational objectives. Only three others suggest its importance. Likely reasons for specifically excluding entrepreneurship from an engineering curriculum are the intensive requirements for mathematics, science, and engineering topics, and the need to meet university general education requirements.
On the surface, this appears to be a conundrum. Virtually any paper that describes an entrepreneur, describes her or him as someone who can formulate a problem, develop an idea
Gassert, J. D., & Blessing, J., & Schmedeman, L., & Fennigkoh, L. (2007, June), Converting Engineering Faculty To Educators Of Entrepreneurs Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1798
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