Asee peer logo

Growing Entrepreneurial Mindset in Interdisciplinary Student Engineers: Experiences of a Project-Based Engineering Program

Download Paper |


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

Multidisciplinary Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Elizabeth Pluskwik Minnesota State University, Mankato

visit author page

Elizabeth leads the Engineering Management and Statistics competencies at Iron Range Engineering, a project-based engineering education program located in northern Minnesota. Her research interests include gamification, entrepreneurship & innovation in engineering, cooperative learning, and engineering management. She enjoys helping student engineers develop entrepreneurial mindsets through active and collaborative learning in the classroom, through projects, and while on co-op. Her prior education and work experience are in accounting, and her Ph.D. in Organization and Management is from Capella University, Minneapolis. She recently gained Six Sigma and Lean certifications. Elizabeth and her husband have a photography business and spend time outdoors with their cameras photographing community events, people, and places in the natural beauty of northern Minnesota.

visit author page


Eleanor Leung Minnesota State University, Mankato

visit author page

Dr. Eleanor Leung is an assistant professor with the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) program which is part of Minnesota State University, Mankato. She joined IRE in August 2016 and is the electrical engineering faculty member who leads competencies in the areas of electric machines, signals and systems, three phase systems and controls systems. Her research area is in wireless communications focusing on space-time block coding and the design of signal constellations. She has a B.S in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary and both a M.Eng and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from McMaster University.

visit author page


Andrew Lillesve Iron Range Engineering

visit author page

Andrew Lillesve is originally from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. After high school he attended the Itasca Community College Engineering Program until 2006, at which point he moved to Houghton, Michigan. There finished his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. In 2009, he began his M.B.A. at Michigan Technological University finishing in summer 2010.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Engineering education models have recently embraced the entrepreneurial mindset as a desired outcome of undergraduate engineering education. Interdisciplinary active learning strategies have been suggested as an effective pedagogy for engaging student engineers in undergraduate engineering education. Recent research suggests that active, social learning in context can lead to improvements in learner innovation, problem-solving, curiosity, retention and accessibility of knowledge, value-creation, and other desired learning outcomes. Much of the recent adoption of active and collaborative learning, self-directed learning, problem-based and project-based learning (PBL), peer to peer learning, and other similar learning strategies are aimed at developing innovative and entrepreneurial mindset skills, but they have been limited to Capstone Design courses. Our aim is to develop the entrepreneurial mindset much earlier in the student engineers’ undergraduate education.

The Iron Range Engineering program is entrepreneurial in nature, based on continuous improvement, self-directed learning, and reflective practice. Our student engineers learn in context, by applying technical engineering knowledge in project teams working on industry-sourced projects, each of the four semesters of their junior and senior years. In addition, freshman and sophomores enrolled in pre-engineering studies in a closely aligned community college are included in the culture, many activities, and teaching staff of the upper division program.

Drawing from the Kern Family Foundation’s Engineering Unleashed program and Innovating Curriculum with Entrepreneurial Mindset (ICE) workshops, faculty in the program were introduced to the entrepreneurial mindset in the summer of 2017. In the Fall, 2017 semester, they developed and piloted several entrepreneurial-minded learning (EML) modules across the curriculum of our program (approx. 100 students in lower and upper divisions), ranging from Statics in Sophomore year, to Entrepreneurship and Statistics in the Junior year, and Three-Phase and Signals and Systems for the Seniors, among others. Entrepreneurial Mindset was also reinforced in Design class and applied in project work.

This paper describes the experiences of faculty and students in the implementation of entrepreneurial mindset modules adopted in our program, as well as preliminary results of this rapid deployment in an interdisciplinary engineering program. We use a case study format to report auto-ethnographic stories from both faculty and student perspectives.

Early results are promising. After two semesters of simultaneous deployment of entrepreneurial mindset across the curriculum, faculty are engaged and working collaboratively to improve and extend this type of entrepreneurial learning even further into the program. The impact on ABET and KEEN outcomes are addressed. Student feedback is also positive. The pervasiveness of the application of entrepreneurial mindset is present in student reflections, project technical documents, design reviews, oral exams, and other student work. The entrepreneurial mindset has become part of the culture of our program in a short time, which we view as a positive outcome. The experiences of the participating faculty members are presented in the paper, as well as student reflections on the application of entrepreneurial mindset in their courses and design projects. Planned next steps are also addressed in the paper.

Pluskwik, E., & Leung, E., & Lillesve, A. (2018, June), Growing Entrepreneurial Mindset in Interdisciplinary Student Engineers: Experiences of a Project-Based Engineering Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30565

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: © 2018 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