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Innovative STEM-preneur Learning Modules for a Freshman Robotic Engineering Class

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Programs and Courses Session 5

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.758.1 - 24.758.9



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Paper Authors

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Yan Xu University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Hua Li Texas A&M University, Kingsville Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Hua Li, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has more than four year experience in engineering education. Dr. Li has received more than 2 million grants as PI and Co-PI.

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Kai Jin Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Dr. Kai Jin is a professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M University - Kingsville. Her research interests in engineering education includes project based learning, integrating entrepreneurship thinking in engineering curriculum, engineering education for women, and improving students’ engagement through engineering minors. She has served as PI or Co-PI in granted projects from DOEd, DHS, NRC, and HP with totally more than $3M. She also conducts research in wind energy, sustainable manufacturing, and optimization and simulation.

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Innovative STEM-Preneur Learning Modules for Freshman Robotic Engineering ClassResearch in engineering education over the past 15 years has shown that the interest in pursuingundergraduate degrees in engineering has declined amongst graduating high school students. Ithas also been noted that many students made their decision to leave an engineering major withinthe first two years, the period during which they are taking engineering prerequisites and beforetaking any (or many) engineering courses. Researches show that exposing students toengineering experiences and/or projects early in their college studies might have a greater chanceof both enticing students to persist and interesting them in specific sub-fields of engineering.In this paper, innovative STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-Preneurlearning modules that combine the powerful STEM knowledge and innovative entrepreneurialthinking will be introduced. The modules are designed and used in a freshmen level roboticsclass to improve STEM learning outcomes through a six week hands-on robotic engineeringproject. The majority of students in the class are Hispanics, and there is almost no localinternship opportunity for them since the college is located at a small town. Few students get theopportunity to experience a true work environment before being thrust into the workforce aftergraduation. The authors are focusing on three pedagogical research questions: 1) How to makemeaningful and lasting impact on the chronic problem of inclusion of under-represented groupsin engineering? 2) How to prepare our STEM students for their future job displacements andcareer development? And 3) How to add skills in innovation and entrepreneurship withoutdiluting engineering fundamentals given already over-crowded curricula?The learning modules use a robotic engineering team project to guide students through theengineering design process with emphasis on business thinking for a giving challenge. Threestudents will form a team to brainstorm, conduct research, design, build, and test using LEGOEducation Mindstorm NXT set. During the project, students also need to consider material cost,labor cost, and other business factors by carefully logging and tracking the inventory and teammember’s activities. The students are required to write a formal engineering technical report andgive a presentation/demo for their project outcomes at the end of the project. The project studentsare to gain experiences on engineering design process, business thinking, technical knowledge,and hands-on skill in robotics field.There will be two surveys and one evaluation for this project. The pre-surveys focus on students’awareness and interest in STEM and its careers. It asked students’ opinions and has beenconducted. The post survey will compare with students’ answers from the pre-surveys andindicate the student educational outcomes and the project experience. The two surveys alongwith the class Instructional Development & Evaluation Assessment (IDEA) evaluation fromstudents will be analyzed to improve the learning module content and its effectiveness.

Xu, Y., & Li, H., & Jin, K. (2014, June), Innovative STEM-preneur Learning Modules for a Freshman Robotic Engineering Class Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20650

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