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Engineering Students' Misuse of Business Concepts: Understanding Problematic Precursors to Entrepreneurship

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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 and Innovation: The Student Experience

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Todd M. Fernandez Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Todd is a PhD Candidate in Engineering Education at Purdue University who's research is focused on entrepreneurship education as a component of modern engineering education efforts.

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil is the Director of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Associate Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University. She is responsible for the launch and development of the university’s multidisciplinary undergraduate entrepreneurship program, which involves 1800 students from all majors per year. She has established entrepreneurship capstone, global entrepreneurship, and women and leadership courses and initiatives at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to her work in academia, Nathalie spent several years in the field of market research and business strategy consulting in Europe and the United States with Booz Allen and Hamilton and Data and Strategies Group. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MBA from Babson College, and MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University. She currently serves on the board of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the role of Vice President for Research. She is also a Senior Research Advisor to the Stanford University Epicenter.

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Connor Rene Couetil Purdue University

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In this paper we report on a qualitative study of engineering undergraduates that explores misconceptions made by students when solving entrepreneurial problems. The study focuses on misconceptions, which are instances in which students hold incorrect views about how the world works, separate from simple mistakes in implementation of concepts. The study uses a thematic analysis approach to identify common misconceptions from 40 interviews with engineering undergraduates who have and have not taken entrepreneurship coursework. The results of the study show 112 misconceptions that represent 4 primary themes. The four themes show different ways in which student populations hold incorrect understandings of how early stage companies, price products, take investment, build market share, and exit through IPOs and sales. Regression modeling of the results shows that participation in entrepreneurial coursework does not reduce the overall number of misconceptions, but does slightly reduce the likelihood that a student will employ misconceptions related to investment. By comparing the misconceptions identified in students to studies of media conceptions of entrepreneurs, we suggest possible roots for the misconceptions and educational interventions that may help confront and challenge the identified misconceptions.

Fernandez, T. M., & Duval-Couetil, N., & Couetil, C. R. (2017, June), Engineering Students' Misuse of Business Concepts: Understanding Problematic Precursors to Entrepreneurship Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28261

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