Asee peer logo

General Education: Key for Success for an Entrepreneurial Engineering Career

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Teaching and Learning Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.666.1 - 25.666.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Owe G. Petersen Milwaukee School of Engineering

visit author page

Owe Petersen is Department Chair and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He is a former member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and received his Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. His technical work ranges over topics such as optical data links, integrated circuit technology, RF semiconductor components, and semiconductor component reliability. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and an ABET EAC Program Evaluator in electrical engineering.

visit author page

author page

R. David Kent Milwaukee School of Engineering


Christina Howe University of Evansville

visit author page

Christina Howe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind. She received her B.S. from the University of Evansville and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, where she studied the radiation response of focal plane arrays.

visit author page

author page

Mary B. Vollaro Western New England University

Download Paper |


General Education – Key for Success for an Entrepreneurial Engineering Career Owe Petersen1 David Kent1 Christina Howe2 Mary B. Vollaro3 1 Milwaukee School of Engineering 2 University of Evansville 3 Western New England UniversityAbstractThe purpose of an education is not just to provide job skills, but to provide the foundation for acareer. For engineering graduates, it is critical to recognize while technical skills are perishable,professional skills will endure. The latter skills will play a key role in career advancement andjob survival since professional skills, when accompanied by technical skills, provide career value.This includes but is not limited to the ability to recognize societal needs, asses perceived versusreal needs, work with others to address these needs, communicate effectively. However, it is inparticular for the development of entrepreneurial minded graduates, who will pursue careersreplete with innovation and problem solving, that the disciplines often termed General Studiesare essential.If an engineering program has superb technical content, what, if anything, can be done to raisethe level of educational excellence in its graduates? The answer is to integrate the coreprofessional skills cultivated by General Studies into the engineering curriculum. A centralthesis of this paper is that engineering and General Studies differ in specific content but arehighly complementary in the desired educational outcomes of its graduates. Hence, theembrace of General Studies is the wedge to provide an education that opens the mind topossibilities not normally encouraged, seen, or pursued in a traditional engineering education.Hence, General Studies is an essential educational component to be embraced as being on parwith technical topics.The challenge to an engineering curriculum can be defined in mathematical terms. Compare theessentials of a normal engineering education, its emphases on technical courses, math andscience, to the professional component. The reality and the desired outcomes for graduates canbe stated as: An 80/20 curriculum must result in a 50/50 graduate, - where the ratios represent percentagesIntroducing an entrepreneurial mindset in an engineering curriculum will not be accomplishedby adding courses. This challenge must be addressed by making the liberal arts and socialscience topics relevant to engineering students in a practical sense that allows engineeringgraduates to commit to engaging in a world driven by more than technical facts. Professionalskills and engineering skills/knowledge must be integrated, often together in the same course,because that is how the graduates will engage their careers and innovate.

Petersen, O. G., & Kent, R. D., & Howe, C., & Vollaro, M. B. (2012, June), General Education: Key for Success for an Entrepreneurial Engineering Career Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21423

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015