June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
24.580.1 - 24.580.15
Exploring Entrepreneurial Characteristics and Experiences of Engineering AlumniIn recent years one of the goals of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is to encourage newgenerations of engineering students to become more entrepreneurial-minded and self-employedin the engineering field (Byers, Seelig, Sheppard, Weilerstein, 2013). Engineering schools in theUnited States have specific curricula that students must fulfill in order to graduate. Today, someof these curricula incorporate a component of entrepreneurial education. As part of this effort, asurvey of current engineering alumni was used to examine and determine which engineeringgraduates have become entrepreneurs or have an interest and intention towards entrepreneurship.This led to an exploration of the demographic characteristics, pre- and post -graduation learningexperiences, career outcome expectations, and personal interests of these alumni in order tobetter understand how they differed from their classmates.The research questions guiding this study are: (1) what levels of entrepreneurial activity, interestand intention do engineering alumni have (for example, how many plan to start or have started acompany)? (2) are there differences between these entrepreneurial alumni and non-entrepreneurial alumni with respect to career motivation, undergraduate learning experiences anddemographic characteristics? and (3) what are the strongest predictors for entrepreneurial activity,interest and intent?The participants in this study graduated with an undergraduate engineering degree in 2007. Fouryears after graduation, the alumni survey was administered to 543 engineering alumni from fourdifferent universities in the United States, which yielded 484 valid responses. The alumni surveyfocused on five areas: (1) degrees and employment; (2) learning experiences then and now; (3)self-concept, outcome expectations and interest; (4) satisfaction and plans; (5) backgroundcharacteristics. The questions on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial affinity represented asubset of these questions.Preliminary results show that eight percent of these recent engineering graduates have startedtheir own company or organization, and an additional 22 percent report that they are eitherinterested in becoming an entrepreneur or are intending to start a new company. Moreover, 60percent of the participants who expressed entrepreneurial interest or intention revealed that theyhad worked on technical team-based projects with non-engineering students during theirundergraduate education.Understanding the characteristics of these entrepreneurial engineering alumni will helpengineering education researchers identify the specific patterns in behavior and psychometriccharacteristics that guide students in an entrepreneurial direction. Additionally, by understandingwhat kinds of entrepreneurial skills engineers need, universities can better ensure that newgraduates have the skills that are required to transition from the engineering school environmentinto a highly innovative work environment. Implications for designing approaches toentrepreneurial education within engineering curriculum as informed by these alumni surveyfindings will be discussed.ReferenceByers, T., Seelig, T., Sheppard, S., & Weilerstein, P. (2013). Entrepreneurship: Its Role in Engineering Education. Summer Issue of The Bridge on Undergraduate Engineering Education, 43(2), 35-40.
Rodriguez, J., & Chen, H. L., & Sheppard, S., & Jin, Q., & Brunhaver, S. R. (2014, June), Exploring Entrepreneurial Characteristics and Experiences of Engineering Alumni Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20471
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