June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
26.917.1 - 26.917.13
Improving Entrepreneurial Skills Through Problem-Based Learning on SustainabilityEngineering employers know that business success comes not only from technical prowess butalso through a spirit of innovation and an awareness of the business context of engineeringventures. Thus it is vital that engineering students are prepared for this environment, givenopportunities to develop a fuller set of skills necessary to contribute to business success.Exercises in these skills can complement a wide range of topics in traditional engineeringcourses. This paper discusses problem-based learning (PBL) module on the topic ofsustainability which sought to develop students’ abilities in and sense of the importance ofcollaboration, market analysis, innovative problem solving, and other entrepreneurial skills.The PBL module was co-developed by mechanical engineering faculty at four universities: W,X, Y, and Z. This module was delivered in two semester courses at each of the four schools,impacting a total of 219 students. After an introductory lesson on the concept and facets ofsustainability, student groups identified a product or process for which they saw opportunities toimprove the sustainability. Students were encouraged to seek expert guidance from someone in afield closely related to their product of choice. Students also had to analyze and weigh variousopportunities according to their impact on the product’s use, ease of manufacture, marketability,and a number of other measures. Students were required to conduct a market analysis todetermine the potential acceptance of the modification. Each student group ultimately generateda written report with their final proposal, and “sold” their proposal to the instructor and class viaa presentation or YouTube video.Pre- and post-project surveys (a common instrument at all schools) were given to all students tomeasure students’ confidence in their own abilities concerning fourteen different entrepreneurial-related metrics. The surveys also asked the students to rate their own perception of theimportance of these same skills. Improvement in both confidence and awareness was achievedin many of these areas. A full description of the project and detailed analysis of survey results isincluded.
Mikesell, D. R., & Chen, T., & Ma, J., & Ali, A. (2015, June), Improving Entrepreneurial Skills Through Problem-based Learning on Sustainability Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24254
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