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Faculty Views of Undergraduate Intellectual Property Policies and Practices

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ENT Division Technical Session: Entrepreneurship and IP

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Soohyun Yi Texas Tech University

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Soohyun Yi is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at Texas Tech University. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Studies (Gifted Education with emphases in Educational Psychology and Research Methodology) from Purdue University and M.A. in Psychological Measurement from Ewha Womans University. Her scholarly trajectory aims to improve education for underserved and underchallenged students with impactful research and evidence-based interventions. Longitudinal research methodology is the main area of her expertise, which has enabled her a) to investigate growth trajectories of motivation and career choices; b) to identify opportunity gaps within underserved groups; and c) to evaluate and improve educational interventions in STEM. One of her original studies validating a motivation scale for engineering students was recently published in the Journal of Engineering Education. With the expertise in quantitative research methodology, she is engaged in collaborative research with entrepreneurship education and other interdisciplinary programs.

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil is the Director of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Associate Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center, and a Professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University. She is responsible for the launch and development of the university’s multidisciplinary undergraduate entrepreneurship program, which involves 1800 students from all majors per year. She has established entrepreneurship capstone, global entrepreneurship, and women and leadership courses and initiatives at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to her work in academia, Nathalie spent several years in the field of market research and business strategy consulting in Europe and the United States with Booz Allen and Hamilton and Data and Strategies Group. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MBA from Babson College, and MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University.

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Given that undergraduate engineering students are becoming more involved in research and entrepreneurial activities that can lead to the generation of intellectual property (IP), this study investigates faculty attitudes related to IP policies and practices associated with educating and guiding undergraduate students. We surveyed a sample of 143 faculty members from both engineering and entrepreneurship education to examine: (a) the extent and nature of faculty involvement in undergraduate IP; (b) issues confronting faculty as they relate to undergraduate IP; (c) ways to catalyze undergraduate involvement in the generation of IP; (d) indicators of success; (e) future changes; and (f) best practices. We found that the majority of faculty members who were involved in undergraduate IP perceived that unclear policies, a lack of information, and unclear ownership of inventions were the most significant obstacles when guiding and teaching students. Furthermore, unwritten policies, biased ownership of information toward universities, lack of legal assistance for undergraduate students placed undergraduate students in a gray area where legal policies were not sufficient. Faculty who had previously guided students through the patent process reported greater concerns about teaching students the values and the principles of protecting intellectual property than those who did not. In terms of the role universities should play in enhancing undergraduate IP generation, most participants agreed that universities should educate students about IP protection (87%) and entrepreneurship (71%). The three most highly rated success indicators in educating undergraduate IP development were the increasing number of students involved in real world innovation and invention and entrepreneurial activities and enhancing student involvement with industry. When asked how universities could mitigate issues related to student IP, six themes emerged from participants’ open-ended responses, including: university taking no claim on student IP; early education and training about intellectual property issues; consulting assistance from TTO; creation of entrepreneurial culture or ecosystem; and access to low cost legal advice. Faculty members surveyed had strong views about where potential problems occur, and fewer recommendations on what resources should be provided. From the data, it is clear that there is still much to be accomplished to clarify the extent to which universities should be involved in managing undergraduate intellectual property. With further research and understanding, best practices for undergraduate IP generation can be applied to avoid further IP challenges for faculty, students, and academic institutions.

Yi, S., & Duval-Couetil, N. (2020, June), Faculty Views of Undergraduate Intellectual Property Policies and Practices Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34665

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