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Integrating Entrepreneurship and Innovation into an Engineering Curriculum Through Service Learning and the Liberal Arts

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Creative and Cross-disciplinary Methods Part I

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.798.1 - 25.798.14



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Paper Authors


Katherine Hennessey Wikoff Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Katherine Hennessey Wikoff is an Associate Professor in the General Studies Department at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where she teaches courses in communication, literature, film studies, and political science.

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Michael Hoge Carriere Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Michael Carriere is an Assistant Professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where he teaches courses on American history, public policy, political science, environmental studies, and urban design. He has written for such publications as the Journal of Planning History, Perspectives on History, the Journal of Urban History, Reviews in American History, History News Network, Punk Planet, and His first book, tentatively titled "Between Being and Becoming: On Architecture, Student Protest, and the Aesthetics of Liberalism in Postwar America," is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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Integrating Entrepreneurship and Innovation into an Engineering Curriculum Through Service Learning and the Liberal Arts ABSTRACTThis paper describes the way innovation and entrepreneurship have been integrated into anengineering curriculum through a year-long liberal arts seminar. This three-course sequence has“The City” as its topical focus, and it incorporates principles of entrepreneurship and innovationthrough course content specifically centered on these concepts through experiential learning in aservice project, and through critical thinking and rhetorical analysis of students’ own researchstrategies using the Burkean parlor model of academic and professional conversation.In Fall Quarter, students read texts, view films, and study other cultural products related to theconcept of “The City.” They examine how depictions of entrepreneurs and industry illuminateour understanding of “City” and its connection to the American Dream—and the promises andperils associated with such a concept. In Winter Quarter, students study “The City” as aninnovation center. The concept of creativity is examined as a social, collaborative idea, andstudents explore the history of the large city in which our institution is located. In SpringQuarter, students study the aesthetics of the city and analyze the rhetoric of public space. Therelationship between art and commerce is explored, with historic and contemporary examplespresented for analysis.Students also complete substantial, self-directed research projects that require them to becomefamiliar with current issues and recent trends in academic and professional conversationsregarding their selected topics. Learning how to enter a field, ask the right questions, anddetermine its key “players” and important issues are hallmarks of the critical thinking skillscultivated in the traditions of liberal education. These same abilities also characterize thepractices of entrepreneurs and innovators outside the academy. Service-learning projects haveallowed students to work with government officials, community groups, and non-profitorganizations – all actors that they will inevitably interact with once they become professionals.Completed projects have included the design and build of a community garden and rainwatercatchment system, the construction of a solar food dehydrator, and a proposal to better define theentrance to and enhance the usability of a new urban state trail.It is clear that the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math) are importantat this critical juncture in America life. But, as Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley hasrecently argued, “we would be equally impoverished without humanistic knowledge as well.Science and technology teach us what we can do. Humanistic thinking can help us understandwhat we should do.” A pedagogy based upon entrepreneurialism can help create a vibrantrelationship between the liberal arts and engineering education, one that strengthens bothdisciplines as it better prepares students for the realities of 21st century economic life.

Wikoff, K. H., & Carriere, M. H. (2012, June), Integrating Entrepreneurship and Innovation into an Engineering Curriculum Through Service Learning and the Liberal Arts Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21555

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