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Fusing Introduction to Engineering and Intercultural Communication and Its Effect on the Customer Awareness Aspect of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Haolin Zhu Arizona State University

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Dr. Haolin Zhu earned her BEng in Engineering Mechanics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and her Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University, with a focus on computational solid mechanics. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Zhu joined Arizona State University as a full time Lecturer and became part of the freshman engineering education team in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She currently holds the title of Senior Lecturer and focuses on designing the curriculum and teaching in the freshman engineering program. She is also involved in the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program, the ASU ProMod project, the Engineering Projects in Community Service program, the Engineering Futures program, and the Global Freshman Academy. Dr. Zhu also designs and teaches courses in mechanical engineering at ASU, including Mechanics of Materials, Mechanical Design, Mechanism Analysis and Design, Finite Element Analysis, etc. She was part of a team that designed a largely team and activity based online Introduction to Engineering course, as well as a team that developed a unique MOOC introduction to engineering course for the Global Freshman Academy. Her Ph.D. research focuses on multi-scale multiphase modeling and numerical analysis of coupled large viscoelastic deformation and fluid transport in swelling porous materials, but she is currently interested in various topics in the field of engineering education, such as innovative teaching pedagogies for increased retention and student motivation; innovations in non-traditional delivery methods, incorporation of the Entrepreneurial Mindset in the engineering curriculum and its impact.

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Ian Derk Arizona State University

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Mr. Ian Derk is an instructor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and PhD student in communication at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. He studies digital rhetoric, social networks, and educational technology. He works with hybrid class, project-based learning, and inter/transdisciplinary collaborations as part of various projects at Arizona State University.

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Stephanie Sowl Arizona State University

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Stephanie Sowl is a research specialist in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University and received her M.Ed. in Education Organization and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include underrepresented students’ postsecondary educational trajectories and evaluation of college access and success programs.

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Natalie Nailor

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Fusing introduction to engineering and intercultural communication and its effect on the customer awareness aspect of the entrepreneurial mindset

Technical skillset alone is no longer sufficient to prepare our engineering students for the global economy and for the societal challenges that they will help address today. It is important for educators to prepare the students who possess both a strong technical skillset and an entrepreneurial mindset. In order to promote the entrepreneurial mindset in engineering education, the Kern Family Foundation has established a network, known as the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN), of institutions across the nation that are committed to this effort. KEEN uses the KEEN pyramid to depict the attributes of an entrepreneurial engineer, with each of the three bottom corners of the pyramid being technical fundamentals, business acumen, and customer awareness and the top corner being societal values; and defines the entrepreneurial mindset using the three C framework: curiosity, creating value, and making connections. At [Institution], an innovative approach called Project-Based Modular Learning (ProMod) has been used since 2015 that helps students see the connections of what they are learning from different disciplines and become more motivated to learn in courses outside of their core curriculum, as they apply the knowledge and skills gained from the different disciplines in a single real world project. In Fall 2017 a ProMod project that involves both introduction to engineering and intercultural communication classes is implemented at [Institution] for freshman mechanical engineering students. The project allows students to focus on a community that has a different cultural background than their own and develop a design solution to help the community of their chosen gain access to clean water. This ProMod project has been designed to also help instill the entrepreneurial mindset, more specifically, it emphasizes customer awareness as depicted in the KEEN pyramid. In the introduction to engineering class students learn about the design process as well as technical skills and tools, and in the intercultural communication class students develop an appreciation of the different cultural background of their customers in order to create a design that better meets their customer’s needs.

To assess how this effort affects students’ confidence in defining the design problem that focuses on the real need of their customer; and customer awareness, emphasizing intercultural aspects & notions of motivation, a survey instrument was designed and administered at the beginning of the semester to the cohort that is enrolled in this ProMod project and then again at the end of the semester. The control group used in this case consists of mechanical engineering students who enrolled in a different ProMod project during Fall 2016, as well as those who did not participate in ProMod.

In the paper, the details of the implementation of this ProMod project as well as results from the assessment will be discussed.

Zhu, H., & Derk, I., & Sowl, S., & Nailor, N. (2018, June), Fusing Introduction to Engineering and Intercultural Communication and Its Effect on the Customer Awareness Aspect of the Entrepreneurial Mindset Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30552

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