June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
22.622.1 - 22.622.10
Enhancing the Entrepreneurial Mindset of Freshman EngineersOn page 1 of Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the NewCentury cites the most critical task of engineering educators: “first and foremost, engineeringeducation must produce technically excellent and innovative graduates.” This report furtherstates “it is agreed that innovation is the key and engineering is essential to the task of helpingthe United States maintain its economic leadership and its share of high technology jobs.” Thegoal of our research is to benchmark and identify creativity and innovation skill sets in first-yearengineering students, which are included among necessary entrepreneurial skill sets, andunderstand how and why these skill sets change over their undergraduate matriculation.Our research will report on an initial study of the impact of first-year engineering courses on thechanges in entrepreneurial mindsets of first year engineering students. Entrepreneurial mindset inour study is operationally defined as a more growth orientated mindset versus a fixed orientatedmindset. This operational definition and the accompanying mindset measurement instrument wasdeveloped and validated by Carol Dweck of Stanford University. Based on Dweck‟s researchresults we assume a growth mindset is a reasonable surrogate for a student engineer‟s creativeand innovative or entrepreneurial skills.Mindset of student engineers are benchmarked at the beginning of the freshman year and thenagain at the end of the freshman year, soon after completion of a team based poverty alleviationfreshman capstone project. Two pre and post control samples of freshman engineer mindsets arebeing collected from similar sized engineering programs at comparable colleges in ourgeographic vicinity. Initial beginning-of-year testing results indicate a statistically significant tilttoward a fixed mindset in freshman engineering students compared to a growth mindset observedin an opportunity sample of freshman business students. We are tracking engineering studentsboth at the group and at the individual level, by major and by other statistically significantdemographic attributes.Our long-term principal research goal is to determine how and why engineering courseassignments affect a student engineer‟s entrepreneurial skill set. We hypothesize that a studentengineer‟s innovation skills are a learned behavior that is influenced by the student engineer„slearning experiences and course assignments. In order to study this phenomenon we must firstestablish a baseline of how student engineer mindsets change over time. Once we haveestablished this baseline of mindset data, we can then alter interventions to evaluate theirdifferentiated impact on mindset changes.If entrepreneurial skill is critical to the future economic success of our country then enhancingthis skill set is a critical component in engineering education.
Reid, K., & Ferguson, D. M. (2011, June), Enhancing the Entrepreneurial Mindset of Freshman Engineers Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17903
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