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Going Beyond "What Should We Do?": An Approach to Implementation of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Nilsen Purdue Center for Regional Development Orcid 16x16

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Liz Nilsen is a Senior Advisor to the Purdue Center for Regional Development. She was previously Senior Program Officer at VentureWell, where she provided leadership to the Epicenter Pathways to Innovation initiative, an effort to engage with a cohort of colleges and universities to fully embed innovation and entrepreneurship in undergraduate engineering education. She previously led several other STEM initiatives, including those associated with Penn State and Virginia Tech. She earned her BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Northeastern University.

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Thema Monroe-White SageFox Consulting Group

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Thema Monroe-White is a senior evaluation and research consultant at SageFox Consulting Group. Thema worked as a researcher and evaluator in the areas of mental health, STEM education and commercialization. She has taught in the K-12 environment, served as an instructor and invited guest lecturer for courses in leadership, statistics and cross-cultural psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Thema completed her Master's Degree in Developmental Psychology at Howard University and her PhD in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Edward F. Morrison Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Ed Morrison is Regional Economic Development Advisor for the Center for Regional Development at Purdue University. Ed has been developing a new approach to developing strategies for complex collaboration in open, loosely connected networks. Called “strategic doing”, this methodology emphasizes the strategic value of collaboration in today's global economy.
For over twenty-five years, he conducted strategy projects throughout the U.S. His work won the first Arthur D. Little Award for excellence in economic development presented by the American Economic Development Council.
Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France.
Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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Phil Weilerstein VentureWell

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Phil Weilerstein is the President and CEO of VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). Phil began his career as an entrepreneur as a student at the University of Massachusetts. He and a team including his advisor launched a startup biotech company which ultimately went public. This experience, coupled with a lifelong passion for entrepreneurship, led to his work with VentureWell. Phil’s tenure at the VentureWell is marked by his skill for network-building and expert leverage of resources. He has a special talent for seeking out gifted educators and other important contributors and putting them to work for the betterment of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship education in the U.S. and worldwide. As an entrepreneur in a non-profit organization, he has grown the VentureWell from a grassroots group of enthusiastic faculty to a nationally known and in-demand knowledge base and resource center. Phil is a founder and past chair of the Entrepreneurship Division of the American Society of Engineering Education and serves as the Deputy Director of the Engineering Pathways to Innovation Center based at Stanford University.

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In the engineering disciplines, “agile” approaches are most often associated with product development, particularly in the software arena. The approach is most useful for addressing challenges that are complex, require many people, and in which there is a high degree of uncertainty about the best approach. This set of conditions holds true far beyond product development. One such scenario is that of planning and implementation of organizational interventions –an environment in which “strategic planning” is often the tool of choice but one which is ineffective in a networked (rather than hierarchical) context. An alternative approach described in this paper is “strategic doing”. As in agile product development, the approach uses iterative cycles of implementation, learning and reflection, and improvement, with a focus on rapid experimentation and gradual scaling up of solutions. While not designed for educational settings, the use of strategic doing in such environments is growing. Some recent examples include deployment at individual universities seeking to reform their curriculum, as a technique for students to better organize teams in classes like capstone design, the transformation of academic departments, the formation of cross-disciplinary research teams to address “grand challenges” and finally by the ASEE board itself as it considers the Society’s future structure and programming.

This paper describes the the process and its application to engineering education, specifically in an effort to increase the range and quality of innovation and entrepreneurship offerings for undergraduate engineering students.

Nilsen, E., & Monroe-White, T., & Morrison, E. F., & Weilerstein, P. (2016, June), Going Beyond "What Should We Do?": An Approach to Implementation of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25405

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