June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
24.517.1 - 24.517.23
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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