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Developing Intrapreneurship in the Next Generation of Engineering Innovators and Leaders

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Tim Dallas P.E. Texas Tech University

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Tim Dallas is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas Tech University. Dr. Dallas’ research includes developing educational technologies for deployment to under-served regions of the world. His research group has developed MEMS-based educational technologies that have been commercialized, expanding dissemination. He has served as an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Education. Dr. Dallas received the B.A. degree in Physics from the University of Chicago and an MS and PhD from Texas Tech University in Physics. He worked as a Technology and Applications Engineer for ISI Lithography and was a post-doctoral research fellow in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas, prior to his faculty appointment at TTU.

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Heather Greenhalgh-Spencer Texas Tech University


Kelli M. Frias American University Orcid 16x16

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Kellilynn M. Frias received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Her research interests include marketing strategy, business-to-business relationships, and commercialization of technology. Her teaching interests include technology commercialization, marketing strategy, marketing, and public policy. She has published research in Organization Science, International Journal of Engineering Education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, and Journal of Business & Management. She employs project-based learning and multi-method research in many of her courses.

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This S-STEM Project responds to a growing disparity among technology firms and the number of under-represented people in managerial and executive positions. Of particular interest is developing mentorship relationships and intrapreneurial competencies (i.e., entrepreneurship within established firms). Mentorship and increased skills preemptively aid in the retention and promotability of engineering undergraduates (upon entering the workforce). Specifically, the project was designed to produce electrical and computer engineering graduates with intrapreneurial knowledge and skills, which are characteristic of managers and innovators. Using the Intrepreneurial Competencies literature, the authors develop and test a multi-phased project among a diverse group of engineering undergraduates. The literature suggests enhancing intrapreneurial skills of students in engineering can be achieved through a combination of curricular and real-world experiences. Thus, this project incorporates faculty and industry mentorship, workforce development seminars, an industrial internship, entrepreneurship programs, and scholarships.

Cohort 1 is comprised of a diverse group of 16 students (8 men, 8 women, 8 ethnic minorities). Students attended lectures by prominent engineering entrepreneurs, participated in a 3-day start-up weekend, attended engineering job fairs and two semesters of project-focused seminars, and read entrepreneurial and/or leadership-related books. Two primary data sets were collected utilizing a repeated measures design. Data were collected in the form of student reflections about being a mentee in the mentor relationships and interview data from mentors (i.e., engineering professionals). Students documented their mentoring sessions, which were reviewed by the project team. A primary theme that emerged from mentor reports was the effects of COVID-19, mostly how students felt about their coursework and how their industry mentors felt about their jobs. Although there was deep concern about the impacts of COVID-19, the students expressed a sense of growth and learning in spite of the virus. Students self-reported that the S-STEM experience was still highly beneficial, even as much of the coursework and mentoring for the latter half of the Spring semester had to be moved online. The students responded well, with the average semester GPA rising from 3.483 in the Fall to 3.774 in the Spring.

Second, data were collected by survey pre- and post-semester to measure improvements in Intrapreneurial Competencies. The “Intrapreneurial Competencies Measurement Scale”(ICMS) by Vargas-Halabi et al. was used to measure and evaluate the development of intrapreneurial competencies, which include: (1) Opportunity promoter, (2) Proactivity, (3) Flexibility, (4) Drive, and (5) Risk taking. Each of the six categories of the ICMS is divided into 3-9 sub-categories to assess skill and mindset in the six general categories. In answering the questions on the ICMS test, students evaluated their proficiency in each of the areas. Growth was evident for almost all the categories and sub-categories across each of the three data-gathering points.

Dallas, T., & Greenhalgh-Spencer, H., & Frias, K. M. (2021, July), Developing Intrapreneurship in the Next Generation of Engineering Innovators and Leaders Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36944

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