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Developing and Assessing Elevator Pitches in Capstone Design

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Karen C. Davis University of Cincinnati

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Karen C. Davis is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computing Systems at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include database design, query processing and optimization, data warehousing, and engineering/computing education. She has been awarded the ASEE Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering Education, the College of Engineering and Applied Science's Faculty Excellence Award and the Master of Engineering Education Award.

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Fred Richard Beyette Jr. University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Fred R. Beyette Jr. is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computing Systems at the University of Cincinnati. His research interests include point-of-care and wearable technologies for medical diagnostic and health monitoring applications, hardware development of photonic information processing systems and components that bridge the photonic/electronic interface.

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In this paper, we utilize one of the e-learning modules developed through the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and provided by the University of New Haven (UNH), a KEEN partner institution. KEEN promotes engineering education by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in students: “… beginning with curiosity about our changing world, integrating information from various resources to gain insight, and identifying unexpected opportunities to create value. An engineer equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset is able to create extraordinary value within any type of organization. KEEN schools identify, nurture, and develop entrepreneurially minded engineers who will contribute to our national economic prosperity and secure individual fulfillment through a lifetime of meaningful work.” (

The UNH KEEN modules are intended to be integrated into engineering and computer science classes at all undergraduate levels. They consist of independent work done via online lessons that include video and readings, along with reflective exercises and quizzes.

At the University of Cincinnati, we deployed the module on developing an elevator pitch in a senior capstone design course. The online module consists of four lessons. The first two lessons introduce the concepts of stakeholders and value propositions, while the latter two introduce developing a pitch and recovering from a failed pitch. We split the four lessons into two halves, two to be completed at the beginning of the semester and the remaining two at the end. The rationale for doing so is that students collect voice-of-customer data at the beginning of the semester to help inform their project proposals and then to evaluate alternate designs around midterm. The first two lessons help the students to broaden their ideas about who their stakeholders could be and to think beyond the technical aspects of the project to address the potential value of the project. At the end of term, they produce an elevator pitch video and conduct a technical design review (TDR). The final lesson about responding to a failed pitch can help students move forward using the critiques from their TDR and video pitch.

The contributions of this paper include (1) illustration of active learning exercises developed for team-based, in-class activities to support the online content, and (2) development of a rubric to assess the elevator pitch. A survey of rubrics and synthesis of our rubric are given. We discuss experiences deploying the module and in-class activities, the impact on student learning, and results of applying the elevator pitch rubric.

Davis, K. C., & Beyette, F. R. (2017, June), Developing and Assessing Elevator Pitches in Capstone Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28142

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