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Implementing an Entrepreneurial Mindset Design Project in an Introductory Engineering Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Design in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Matthew J Jensen Florida Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Matthew J. Jensen received his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2006. Matthew received his doctorate from Clemson University in 2011 in Mechanical Engineering, focused primarily on automotive control systems and dynamics. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, the ProTrack Co-Op Coordinator and Chair of the General Engineering Program at Florida Institute of Technology. His research interests include applications in automotive/transportation safety, electro-mechanical systems, data analysis strategies and techniques, dynamic modeling and analysis, and engineering education.

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Jennifer Lynn Schlegel Florida Institute of Technology

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Jennifer Schlegel joined Florida Tech’s College of Engineering as Director for Innovation in 2015. Recognizing the value of collaboration, communication, teamwork, talent, and opportunity recognition during her professional technical experience catalyzed a return from industry to academia. Delivering unique solutions to government missions as a federal contractor and mentoring FIRST Robotics inspired an interest in building our next generation of engineering talent through innovative curricular and co-curricular experiences. Jennifer has always explored broad, multi-disciplinary engineering solutions earning her Doctorate and Masters in Materials Science and Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University studying nondestructive electromagnetic techniques for materials characterization. Dr. Schlegel received a strong engineering foundation graduating from Virginia Tech in 1992 with an Engineering Science and Mechanics degree.

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At Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), freshman students begin their studies within their chosen major, typically taking an introductory engineering course specific to their discipline. For undecided engineering students, they have the option to start in a general engineering program to help them select a major. FIT has had great success using this general engineering model to improve student retention and time to graduation; however, improvement can be made in preparing students to be innovative, entrepreneurial-minded professionals. The purpose of this paper is to describe the activities focused on exposing students to the entrepreneurial mindset and preparing them for engineering careers. An introductory course in the General Engineering program comprises both a lecture and a lab component and includes a traditional project-based learning experience that spans the semester. The group project requires application of fundamental engineering skills to construct a mini-golf hole. Students are given a theme and a modest budget from which to build the product. While several variations of this project have been used in prior years, this year’s project is modified to incorporate components of entrepreneurial-minded learning. Students were tasked with interviewing potential mini-golf customers to create a valued entertainment experience within the budgetary, design, and manufacturing requirements. Students submitted a final project report, wherein they discussed the impact the entrepreneurial components had on their learning process. Overall, the mini golf freshman design project has been a large success. The students regularly mention it as one of the best experiences in the class on course evaluations. When surveyed at the end of the project, students reported exploring more than one engineering discipline during the project with exposure to Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical the most common majors stated. The students found communicating with their group members as one of the largest project challenges, but also one of the most important to ensure the success of the project. They also found the interview process very helpful during the early stages of their design process; however, rather than using the interview assignment to discover a market opportunity, students used interviews as a means for verifying design themes, aesthetics, and/or obstacles.

Jensen, M. J., & Schlegel, J. L. (2017, June), Implementing an Entrepreneurial Mindset Design Project in an Introductory Engineering Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28480

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