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Incorporating Entrepreneurship into Mechanical Engineering Automotive Courses: Two Case Studies

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Student Entrepreneurial Skills and Mindset II

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.845.1 - 22.845.11



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Paper Authors


Gregory W. Davis Kettering University

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Dr. Gregory W. Davis is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University, formerly known as GMI Engineering & Management Institute. Acting in this capacity, he teaches courses in the Automotive and Thermal Science disciplines. He also serves a Director of the Advanced Engine Research Laboratory, where he conducts research in alternative fuels and engines.
Currently, Greg serves as the faculty advisor for one of the largest Student Chapters of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the Clean Snowmobile Challenge Project. Greg is also active on the professional level of SAE, serving as a Director on the SAE Board of Directors (term, 2007 - 2010), a past Director of the Publications Board, and Past-Chair of the Engineering Education Board. He is also active in numerous committees.
Greg joined the faculty at Kettering after serving on the faculties of the U.S. Naval Academy and Lawrence Technological University. He received his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1991. Prior to this, he worked as an engineer for both the automotive and electric utility industries.
Dr. Davis is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

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Craig J. Hoff Kettering University

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Dr. Craig J. Hoff is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University. He teaches in the areas of thermal design, mechanical design, and automotive engineering. His research focuses on sustainable mobility technologies including alternative fuels, fuel cells and hybrid electric vehicles. He is actively involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers and is the faculty advisor for Kettering's Formula SAE race team. Dr. Hoff is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

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William J. Riffe Kettering University

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Professor Riffe has been a member of the Kettering University faculty since 1985, teaching courses in manufacturing processes, sheet metal forming, composite manufacturing, and problem solving. In 1988, he developed a class called “Engineering Creativity” that was designed to bring out the creative side of engineering and business students. Well over 1,000 students passed through this course. Because of this background, he was selected to be part of a team to teach the “Innovations and New Ventures” class on entrepreneurship that began in the summer of 2006, with him concentrating on the innovation side of the course. To date, over one hundred and eighty students have learned how to develop a product and put together a basic business plan. He led a team to develop “Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum” at Kettering University where faculty members attended workshops designed to help put innovation projects into their classrooms. This effort resulted in Kettering University receiving the “Best in Class” award from the granting foundation. His current efforts are to help extend the entrepreneurship program across the entire institute to include all faculty and appropriate staff people.

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Incorporating Entrepreneurship into Mechanical Engineering Automotive Courses: Two Case StudiesAbstractEngineering programs are often criticized for focusing solely on technical educationwhile ignoring industry and business needs. In response, many programs have addeddedicated courses in leadership or entrepreneurship into the curriculum. The problemwith this approach is that, often, students do not find that it is connected to their studies ina meaningful way. Additionally, in many programs this sort of class is offered as anelective; thus it reaches a relatively small audience.A more effective approach is to try and incorporate entrepreneurship ideas directly intoexisting classes. Engineering professors often find it difficult to make room in the coursesyllabus for entrepreneurship education. Further, many faculty have not been exposed tothe “entrepreneurship mindset” and thus do not feel prepared to broach the subject inclass. Kettering University has attempted to solve this problem by offering a series ofentrepreneurship classes over the course of a term to faculty from all disciplines anddepartments. Armed with their newfound confidence and knowledge, these faculty arethen expected to incorporate entrepreneurship concepts and projects into existing courses.This paper focuses on the incorporation of entrepreneurship ideas and assignments intotwo automotive courses offered in the Mechanical Engineering department. Thesuccesses and failures of the approaches will be discussed. Examples will be given toillustrate how these ideas have been used to enhance the undergraduate learningexperience in the classroom setting at Kettering University. Since the university has astrong automotive focus, many of the examples cited pertain to that industry, but theconcepts can easily applied to other fields such as aerospace, power production, andalternative energy.In addition to enhancing undergraduate education, there are significant other benefits tothis approach. For students, these ideas can be much more engaging than traditionalclassroom material and the exposure to the ideas of the “entrepreneurial mindset” helpsto prepare them for careers in the fast paced society in which we live.

Davis, G. W., & Hoff, C. J., & Riffe, W. J. (2011, June), Incorporating Entrepreneurship into Mechanical Engineering Automotive Courses: Two Case Studies Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18126

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