June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
26.738.1 - 26.738.22
Exploring the Interest and Intention of Entrepreneurship in Engineering AlumniAmerica’s economic growth and international competitiveness depends on its ability to innovate. Entrepreneurship is an important pathway to innovation and leadership, and up until nowthere has been little insight into how engineering graduates engage in entrepreneurial activities.This study explored how engineering alumni who are interested in starting a business or anorganization may be similar to or different from their peers based on a number of measures. Wealso explored why some engineering alumni who co-founded or started a company in the pastmay not longer have entrepreneurial interests.Two research questions guided this study:1. How did engineering alumni with high interest and intention to pursue entrepreneurialactivities compare with their peers with lesser interest and intention in terms of: demographics,engineering self-efficacy, career satisfaction, and undergraduate learning experiences?2. For engineering alumni who had been entrepreneurs, what activities led them to either becomemore entrepreneurially-minded or divert to a non-entrepreneurial career path?The participants in this study were 484 alumni who received their undergraduate engineeringdegrees in 2007 from four different universities in the United States. This alumni surveyincluded five sections: (1) degrees and employment; (2) learning experiences while earning adegree then and now; (3) self-concept, outcome expectations and interest; (4) satisfaction andplans; (5) background characteristics. The questions on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurialaffinity were represented as a subset of these questions.The high interest-high intention group had fewer women in it than the low interest-low intentiongroup (17.9% vs. 26/8%). In contrast, Non-US citizens and under-represented minority (URM)individuals were more present in the high interest-high intention group than in the interest-lowintention group (42.5% non-citizens and 42.0% URM in the high-high group, as compared with32.5% and 34.0%, respectively in the low-low group). At the same time, some of the collegeactivities that these alumni participated in as undergraduate students (e.g. study abroadprograms) were very similar to their peers who showed low interest in and/or low intention forentrepreneurship. In addition, for alumni who started or co-founded a company at some point inthe past, a little over 1/3 reported they would definitely start or co-found a company near thefuture. The balance (some 31%) are less sure or learning away from future endeavors, with 23%reporting maybe, 12% probably not and 6% definitely not. The findings from this research study aim to help engineering education researchers understandentrepreneurial behavior by identifying the factors that promote and foster entrepreneurshipamong engineering alumni. In addition, by identifying what factors or circumstances discourageentrepreneurial activities, engineering schools may design programs and identify resources tobetter support students who are interested in the entrepreneurial path. NEC [National Economic Council]. 2011. A Strategy for American Innovation: DrivingTowards Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs. Washington.
Rodriguez, J., & Chen, H. L., & Sheppard, S., & Leifer, L., & Jin, Q. (2015, June), Exploring the Interest and Intention of Entrepreneurship in Engineering Alumni Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24075
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