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How To Weave Entrepreneurship Into Engineering Education: The Experience At San Jose State University

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Approaches to Teaching Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.703.1 - 11.703.12



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Paper Authors

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Minnie Patel San Jose State University

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Anuradha Basu San Jose State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

How to Weave Entrepreneurship into Engineering Education: the Experience at San Jose State University Abstract

There is a growing consensus about the need for engineers and scientists to have entrepreneurial skills to be successful in their careers. However, there is a continued debate as to how best to impart these skills at the undergraduate level. It is possible to identify two routes to accomplish this objective. One route is to offer courses in engineering entrepreneurship and the other is to encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities that help to foster entrepreneurial skills.

The most common approach adopted by a growing number of universities is to offer courses in entrepreneurship to engineering students. A more unconventional approach that has been used at San Jose State University (SJSU) is to invite students to participate in a Neat Ideas Fair, a campus-wide forum to celebrate creativity and innovation. This fair gives the students an opportunity to display the creative solutions developed by them as part of their engineering course projects. While this event generates enthusiasm and excitement among students and has led to the further development and commercialization of ideas in a few cases, it has two drawbacks. First, it attracts only those students who already have good ideas to display and secondly, it does not give students the fundamentals of entrepreneurship in a systematic way. Despite the fact that SJSU is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, the engineering students at SJSU are not adequately exposed to entrepreneurship as revealed by a preliminary survey by the authors. To bridge this gap, we plan to develop teaching material for an engineering entrepreneurship course at the undergraduate level supported by a CCLI grant from the National Science Foundation.

The objective of the present paper is to describe a process of selecting appropriate course material for teaching engineering entrepreneurship in order to dispel some of the common myths about entrepreneurship amongst undergraduates at SJSU. This paper also discusses the value and impact of the two approaches identified above in educating and exposing engineering students to entrepreneurship.


With recent technological developments, globalization and the internet revolution, the business environment has changed dramatically over the last few years. Customer-driven markets in highly competitive environments have led many U.S. companies to engage in offshore development of their non-core activities. This has impacted engineering job opportunities domestically. It is becoming ever more important for engineers to understand and adapt to the increasingly complex business environment and be able to create jobs for themselves through entrepreneurial initiatives. Small and medium size firms are experiencing fast-growing employment and self-employment in engineering is increasing1. It has become imperative for engineers to develop an entrepreneurial mentality in this context. Recent evidence suggests a gradual change of the engineer from the “employee mentality to the entrepreneurial mentality”2

Patel, M., & Basu, A. (2006, June), How To Weave Entrepreneurship Into Engineering Education: The Experience At San Jose State University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1314

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