June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
15.434.1 - 15.434.11
Early Exposure to Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Innovation and entrepreneurship are key components of the skill set that engineering graduates entering the modern competitive and global workplace must possess. Here we describe a new course in Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship, intended for freshmen and sophomores. The premise was that the most significant impact of the course would be to present it early in the student’s learning experience. The course was developed with funding from the Kern Family Foundation’s KEEN program. The goal of the course is twofold: First, we seek to introduce students to the broader context of engineering that installs a mindset accepting commercialization as a natural part of the introduction of new technologies. Secondly, we seek to provide the students with a “toolbox” of skills to understand the business world and to assess the commercial context and viability of new technologies.
It is agreed by those pondering the future of engineering education1-4 that innovation and entrepreneurship (I & E) must be part of the experience that graduates entering the modern competitive and global workplace must possess. At our institution, and many other educational institutions, engineering students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship have several opportunities to pursue their interests. Usually only a small fraction of the engineering graduates take advantage of these opportunities. In spite of that we believe that all or most engineering students would benefit from being exposed to innovation and entrepreneurship early in their studies and that the importance of I & E must be reinforced throughout the curriculum.
Here we describe a first-year course at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, intended to introduce engineering students to the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship for the economy and to ignite their interest by raising their awareness of the issues and solutions that surround the process. The course consists of an introduction to the role of new initiatives, examples of successful execution of new innovations and detailed information about how to develop new ideas, protect them and develop the concepts into new enterprises, units, or product lines. The goal is to create a perspective for innovation and entrepreneurship in all of our engineering students and to serve as the first step in a more comprehensive program. First, we seek to introduce students to the broader context of engineering, installing a mindset that accepts commercialization as a natural part of the development and introduction of new technologies and that those new technologies often require new business models. Secondly, we provide the students with a “toolbox” of skills to understand the business world and to assess the commercial context and viability of new technologies. The long term intention is to integrate I & E into the educational perspective of all students in their earlier years on campus
The course was developed with funding from the Kern Family Foundation as part of the KEEN program. The proposal was for a two-year pilot program and included the creation of new course entitled Innovation and Entrepreneurship (later identified as ETR 11XX) to be offered to
Schaufeld, J., & Tryggvason, G., & Banks, M. (2010, June), Early Exposure To Engineering Innovation And Entrepreneurship Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15914
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