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Introducing Entrepreneurship and Innovation to Engineering Students Utilizing a Mobile App Development Tool

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division – Innovative Course Offerings

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1023.1 - 26.1023.7



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Paper Authors


Rolfe Josef Sassenfeld New Mexico State University

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Dr. Rolfe Sassenfeld, son of German Rocket Scientist Dr. Helmut Sassenfeld, earned his Doctoral degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas, El Paso. He has worked in higher education for 25 years as a Director of Instructional Technology, Computer Science Faculty, and Research Assistant Professor. He is presently an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the Electronics and Computer Engineering program in the Engineering Technology department of New Mexico State University. His research focus is developing and teaching Android App development to engineers and entrepreneurs with innovative tools that can be utilized by programming novices.

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Luke Nogales New Mexico State University

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Luke Nogales loves to help innovators reach their potential. Luke is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Technology department at New Mexico State University (NMSU) and an Enterprise Advisor at NMSU’s on-campus entrepreneurship resource center, the Arrowhead Center. He teaches core mechanical engineering technology courses and a course on innovation and product development. Prior to working at NMSU, Luke worked as an innovator at Procter & Gamble. He helped develop new products for a variety of markets, ranging from eco-conscious North Americans to bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers in the developing world. Luke has a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology from NMSU and an MS in Product Design and Development from Northwestern University.

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Introducing Entrepreneurship and Innovation to Engineering Students Utilizing a Mobile App Development ToolEmphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation in engineering education is growing worldwide assmall business creation continues to fuel economic growth. An ecosystem of software tools anddeveloper support currently exists that is well suited to introduce these topics to engineeringstudents through creative product development of readily marketable mobile applications (apps).The earning potential for modern day app sales is nothing short of phenomenal. Even simplisticand basic apps have generated millions of dollars in revenue for their owners. In our approach,the engineering students will actually be able to sell their creations and earn income.It is important to introduce entrepreneurship in the most realistic fashion as possible. Many timesgeneric examples of creating and selling ‘widgets’ are used to describe the product developmentprocess. Fictitious companies along with made-up earning sheets and expense reports are createdand used as class examples. Utilizing our novel teaching methodology, the students will developtheir own apps and get real earning statements detailing their app’s actual sales, refunds, andadvertisement commissions from the world’s largest app store. In this way our course providesfor a truly comprehensive and genuine approach to entrepreneurship and innovation where thestudent’s invention and improvements results in a direct financial gain to its creators.A key aspect of our approach is that we incorporate an app development tool that does notrequire advanced programming skills. This tool instead utilizes an extremely intuitive interfacefor the app’s design and layout. Logical control is implemented through the use of a visualprogramming block editor that removes the actual need to ‘code’ the app. The tool offers accessto all of the mobile device’s key features and capabilities thus allowing the designer the ability tomake very interesting and interactive apps. Teaching the engineer with this tool allows thecourse to focus on the innovative aspects of app development as opposed to spending time andeffort on the syntax and functionality of a particular programming language.In this paper we discuss the details of combining these specific tools to create an engaging andreal world learning environment for all engineering students interested in entrepreneurship andinnovation.

Sassenfeld, R. J., & Nogales, L. (2015, June), Introducing Entrepreneurship and Innovation to Engineering Students Utilizing a Mobile App Development Tool Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24360

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