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Engineers, Entrepreneurs, and Innovation at a Liberal Arts University

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Programs and Courses Session 5

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.517.1 - 24.517.23



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Paper Authors


Michael (Mick) J. Bates Waynesburg University

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Dr. Mick Bates is the Founding Program Chair and Associate Professor for Business Administration at Life Pacific College. As the Director of the Innovative Enterprises Program at Taylor University for 8 years, his primary charter was to imbue the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship inside and outside of campus. Over the years he has fostered student innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities in the classroom and through a host of extracurricular activities such as a statewide business plan competition and on-campus incubator. Dr. Bates served as a board member and past executive committee member on two economic development organizations. His nearly 20-year business career revolved around high tech start-up companies in the contact center industry. His international experience includes an exchange to Guatemala during college, living in Germany for three years, business trips to various European countries, and in his time with Taylor University and Waynesburg University, research, speaking, and education travels to China, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, East and West Africa. Dr. Bates is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, holds an MBA from Regent University, and a Doctor of Management with George Fox University.

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Donald Ken Takehara Taylor University

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Don Takehara was Director of the Center for Research & Innovation (CR&I) and Associate Professor at Taylor University for 9 years. With responsibility for leadership and overall success of the CR&I, Don developed/implemented an integrated program of research, entrepreneurship, and business assistance. During these years, research grant funding tripled, over 20 new companies were launched/assisted, and consultant services were provided to 100+ companies/organizations. Don also taught classes in engineering, physics, and chemistry and performed research in STEM Education (high altitude ballooning), biomass gasification, and wind turbine reliability/optimization. Previous to Taylor, Don was at Dow Corning Corporation for 16 years as a technology leader, project leader, and Expertise Center Leader in the R&D of processes and products for silicon containing materials. Don is currently a consultant for university-industry partnerships, grantsmanship, research development, partnership development, engineering, project management, and science education. Don received his PhD and MS in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University and his BS in Chemical Engineering at Purdue University.

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Hank D. Voss Taylor University

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Dr. Hank D. Voss received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois in 1977.He then worked for Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratories prior to coming to Taylor Universityin 1994. He is currently a Professor of Engineering and Physics at Taylor University. Some of the courses that he regularly has taught include Principles of Engineering, Intro to Electronics, Statics, Advanced Electronics, Jr. Engineering Projects, FE Review, Control Systems, Fundamentals of Space Flight Systems, Astronomy, and Sr. Capstone Sequence.

He enjoys mentoring undergraduate students in aerospace, sensors, and energy-related research projects. Some of the research areas include spacecraft nano-satellite technologies, satellite payload instrumentation, High Altitude research Platform (HARP) experiments, wave particle interactions in space, spaceflight X-ray imagers, construction and renewable energy engineering and architecture, and philosophy of science. Dr. Voss has worked as PI on many NASA, Air Force, Navy, NSF, and DOE research grants and has published over 120 scientific papers.

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Innovative Enterprises and Engineers at a Liberal Arts University        Experiential learning with opportunities to ideate, create and implement with the distinctpossibility of failure, appear to address the cognitive abilities of entrepreneurial mindsets betterthan traditional classroom lecture (Duening, 2010). Providing this learning environment forSTEM students in the liberal arts university is challenging. Gone are the days of ivory toweruniversities whose scholarly work is secluded from the external world. Today, universities arecalled upon – even expected - to bring value to their community, their country, and the world.This applies to even the small liberal arts schools. Over the last eight years at a primarilyundergraduate liberal arts university, the Center for Research and Innovation (CR&I) acted as achange agent and showed that small liberal arts schools can not only do research that impacts theworld, but also leveraged that research into value-add solutions.Specifically the Innovative Enterprises Program (IEP), a subsidiary of the CR&I was chargedwith imbuing the spirit of entrepreneurship across campus and regional community with a focuson high value opportunities. This was accomplished through an annual statewide business plancompetition with a cash and loan prize package of $23,000, work-for-hire paid consultingprojects for student and faculty, an in-house incubator for student companies that provided officespace and shared services, corporate partnerships and curriculum addition of an entrepreneurshipminor for all majors. These interdisciplinary, experiential learning opportunities led to thestart-up of new companies and helped bring innovative solutions for existingcompanies/corporations. Ultimately, STEM students that connected with the IEP graduated withmore real-world experience making their resumes stronger but more importantly, they developedinto engineers imbued with the entrepreneurial mindset that they could alter the future.  The IEP was instrumental in engaging STEM students with local businesses and entrepreneursthat resulted in innovation. Specific examples include StratoStar Systems, a 7-year old TaylorUniversity student startup that leverages high altitude research technologies, Taylor student andgraduate computer engineers were connected through IEP programs to start-up and developinnovative agribusiness tools, student researched green technologies that were implemented in anew LEED certified science building, and the generation of a new process for creating carbonnanotubes that resulted in the formation of Tiergan Technologies. Tiergan and StratoStar weredirect products of the business plan competition. The founder of Tiergan, a dualchemistry/business major raised over $50,000 in grants and competition winnings while still anundergraduate and continued working on his company while pursuing a Harvard MBA. The IEPthrough the CR&I showed a liberal arts university is capable of generating intellectual property,economic and environmental value through engineering!  The purpose of this paper is to share the experiences, challenges and outcomes of the IEPprogram within the context of a primarily undergraduate, liberal arts university. The reader willunderstand the planning processes, learn about overcoming institutional hurdles, be exposed torelevant real-world case studies, and gain an appreciation for the value a IEP-like program candeliver in similar environments.   References  Duening, T. N. (2010). Five minds for the entrepreneurial future: Cognitive skills as theintellectual foundation for next generation entrepreneurship curricula. Journal ofEntrepreneurship, 19(1), 1-22.  

Bates, M. M. J., & Takehara, D. K., & Voss, H. D. (2014, June), Engineers, Entrepreneurs, and Innovation at a Liberal Arts University Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20408

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