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Exploring Entrepreneurship Through Product Development

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Teaching Entrepreneurship to Engineers

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.550.1 - 7.550.10



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Paper Authors

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Jacquelyn Sullivan

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Lawrence Carlson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 1354

Exploring Entrepreneurship through Product Development: A Hands-on Approach

Lawrence E. Carlson, Jacquelyn F. Sullivan

Co-Directors Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory and Program College of Engineering and Applied Science University of Colorado at Boulder


Engineering students of all disciplines typically engage in at least one open-ended design experience during their undergraduate careers. Through hands-on design and build projects, they learn the important steps in product and/or process design. However, engineering students are rarely exposed to the entrepreneurial perspective, in which product success is greatly influenced by market forces in addition to the elegance of the design. An engineer may create a functional and beautiful product, but if it doesn’t find a niche in the marketplace, is it really a success?

This paper describes an interdisciplinary course for engineering and other students that explores both sides of the product development process. Working in teams, students design, build and test a proof-of-concept product prototype with potential for commercialization. In parallel with their design/build experience, students explore the world of entrepreneurship, including patent searches that guide their designs, learning the difference between an idea and an opportunity, forecasting profitability, understanding the real costs of raising capital, and estimating manufacturing costs.

Teamwork is essential for product development success. Methods to stimulate and develop effective teams will be discussed. Additionally, course assessment techniques and tools will be presented, including pre- and post-course evaluation of both engineering and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.

To help alleviate the end-of-semester “crunch” characteristic of product development courses, and to promote more professionally crafted product and market documentation, we will describe a method that helps teams write a high-quality, comprehensive Design Report and Feasibility Study by distributing the writing load over the entire semester.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Sullivan, J., & Carlson, L. (2002, June), Exploring Entrepreneurship Through Product Development Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11228

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