June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
14.757.1 - 14.757.9
Integrating Entrepreneurship Throughout an Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum
Many engineering programs are attempting to emphasize the importance of entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset for all engineering students. Since many start-up companies are founded on the basis of a newly developed technology, it is a natural progression for at least some engineering graduates to become entrepreneurs. Even for those with a more conventional career path, entrepreneurial skills and an entrepreneurial way of looking at problems will help them to maximize their professional success.
Of course, practically all engineering programs are already overloaded with critical learning objectives ranging from highly technical skills to highly interpersonal and communication skills. As a result, it can be a great challenge to find an opportunity to incorporate even a small amount of entrepreneurship into an existing engineering curriculum.
The authors present an ongoing effort at their university to integrate entrepreneurial projects and modules directly into required ECE courses in all four years of the curriculum. The effort begins in the first-semester Fundamentals of Engineering course, builds in Advanced Digital Logic Design during the sophomore year and Embedded Microcontrollers during the junior year, and culminates for some students with an entrepreneurial senior design project.
Entrepreneurship has become an increasingly important component of engineering education over the past decade, and it is foreseeable that its emphasis will continue to increase further. Of course, as with all other curricular pressures, it is difficult to see how entrepreneurship education can be further emphasized without eliminating other important elements from our curricula.
Many universities have introduced entrepreneurial topics by integrating them into capstone design sequences1-3. While this is an effective way to introduce the concepts of entrepreneurship, it further overloads a course that is already burdened with many non-technical issues and constraints, and it ensures that students do not fully experience entrepreneurship as part of their education until their final year. Other universities create special courses, certificates, and minors focused on topics of entrepreneurship1,4-6. This is probably the most effective way to introduce these important concepts to engineering students, but it comes at the price of increased teaching load and additional expense to the university. Another alternative is to focus entrepreneurial experiences for students in co-curricular activities such as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO)7,8. A potential concern for such an approach is that it seems to convey the message to students that entrepreneurship is a topic that is outside the normal engineering world and does not deserve a place in the engineering curriculum.
_________ University is attempting a different solution to this challenge—integrating entrepreneurship topics directly into existing courses throughout all four years of the Electrical
Johnson, E., & Budnik, M., & Tougaw, D. (2009, June), Integrating Entrepreneurship Throughout An Electrical And Computer Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5017
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