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Examining the Entrepreneurial Mindset of Senior Chemical Engineering Students as a Result of Exposure to the Epistemic Game “Nephrotex”

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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

Design, Creativity and Critical Thinking in the Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.559.1 - 24.559.12



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Paper Authors

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Kerry Michael Rogy


Cheryl A. Bodnar University of Pittsburgh

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Cheryl A. Bodnar, Ph.D., CTDP, is an assistant professor (teaching track) in the department of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She obtained her certification as a Training and Development Professional (CTDP) from the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) in 2010, providing her with a solid background in instructional design, facilitation, and evaluation.

Dr. Bodnar’s research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques in undergraduate classes (problem based learning, games and simulations, etc.) as well as integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering as well as broader engineering curriculum. In addition, she is actively engaged in the development of a variety of informal science education approaches with the goal of exciting and teaching K-12 students about regenerative medicine and its potential.

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Renee M. Clark University of Pittsburgh

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Dr. Renee Clark serves as the director of assessment for the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Ph.D. from the department of industrial engineering, where she also completed her postdoctoral studies. Her research primarily focuses on the application of data-analysis techniques to engineering education research studies as well as industrial accident scenarios. She has 20 years of experience in various engineering, IT, and data-analysis positions within academia and industry, including 10 years of manufacturing experience at Delphi Automotive.

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Examining the Entrepreneurial Mindset of Senior Chemical Engineering Students as a Result of Exposure to the Epistemic Game “Nephrotex”AbstractInnovation and entrepreneurship are critical to the development and growth of society.Entrepreneurs use innovation to develop novel technologies, while innovation is often supportedby the capital raised by entrepreneurs.1 Companies today are acutely aware of the benefitsafforded by employees with entrepreneurial mindsets and have started screening for thesecharacteristics as well as other 21st Century Skills, including problem solving, critical thinking,and communication skills. In a recent article in the TechCrunch, a leading technology mediaproperty stated, “In our research, we found that some employers are actually looking for studentswith entrepreneurship experience when hiring for entry-level positions… because students whohave an entrepreneurial mindset are accountable for their own actions, aggressive and know howto execute. They also have the communication and sales skills that are necessary to be successfulin business today.”2Recently, several groups have begun research into the characteristics that make up anentrepreneurial mindset. Characteristics including creativity, ability to learn from failure,tenacity, resourcefulness, and strong communication skills have all been documented to be partof this mindset. 3,4 While these skills include fundamentals taught within engineering programs,they also include skills such as learning from failure that are not often covered as part of theengineering curriculum. One way to teach skills related to the entrepreneurial mindset as well asan appreciation of the product design process is through epistemic games. Epistemic games arecomputer simulations that provide students the opportunity to think like a professional within aspecific field, hence learning to identify with the key characteristics of that profession.5,6In this research study, the epistemic game Nephrotex was utilized within a senior chemicalengineering product design class to develop students’ entrepreneurial mindsets. Our rationale forutilizing Nephrotex was for students to gain an understanding of working within a product designcompany and the competing opinions that occur as a result of individuals with different focusedinterests. Nephrotex also provided a scaffolding approach to the design process and did not havejust one correct solution, which enabled students to learn from failure during their work. As partof the virtual internship, students were given a human resources intake and exit survey thatcaptured their impressions of their involvement in and viewpoint of entrepreneurship. Analysesperformed on the data obtained from these surveys showed some interesting trends. Forinstance, many of the senior chemical engineering students had little to no involvement withactivities related to entrepreneurship leading up to their participation in Nephrotex. Other trendsobserved were that the chemical engineering student population as a whole was not particularlyconfident about its ability to start a business. However, this was shown to shift in the directionof increased confidence after being involved with Nephrotex. We also observed a change in thetypology of reasons for wanting to start a business after participation in Nephrotex.

Rogy, K. M., & Bodnar, C. A., & Clark, R. M. (2014, June), Examining the Entrepreneurial Mindset of Senior Chemical Engineering Students as a Result of Exposure to the Epistemic Game “Nephrotex” Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20450

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