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Issues In Teaching Entrepreneurship To Heterogeneous Groups Of Students

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment of Entrepreneurship Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.795.1 - 8.795.7



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Paper Authors

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Harvey Wolfe

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Issues in Teaching Entrepreneurship to Heterogeneous Groups of Students

Harvey Wolfe University of Pittsburgh


Entrepreneurship for Engineers at the University of Pittsburgh is a course geared toward undergraduate seniors and graduate students in all engineering disciplines. The premise of the course is to combine engineering innovation with business development that will result in new product development plus a thorough understanding of what is required to launch a new product. Since students are from varied backgrounds, including many disciplines of engineering and sciences, as well as business, teams are made of individuals with different knowledge sets and mind sets.

The course requires teams to develop a product and move through all of the steps towards launching a company culminating in a prototype, a business plan, an executive summary, and a presentation suitable for obtaining venture capital. Evaluation comments by the students identified a number of significant issues. These include:

1. The heterogeneity of students: Students included full time undergraduate students, full time U.S. educated graduate students, full time foreign educated graduate students, and part time graduate students working full time. This mix is exacerbated by the different academic backgrounds, time constraints of the student groups, and diversity. The challenge is how to put together teams that get along, have different talents, and are productive.

2. Lack of background: Many engineering students have the ability to innovate, but have no background in finance, marketing, sales, management, etc. The challenge is to develop ways of presenting material for which most students have no background in a manner that they can absorb and use.

3. Need for personal attention: Teams need individual guidance. The challenge is to design the course such that students can get the personal attention they need without sacrificing the large body of knowledge that they must learn to be effective entrepreneurs.

4. Individuals who are incompatible with the team: The challenge is to find a way of enabling non-productive individuals to continue in the course without stifling the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment of the rest of the team members.

5. The materials necessary to teach a course in Entrepreneurship for Engineers are either scattered or not readily available: The challenge is to put together a body of material that will be comprehensive, but in a form that addresses the engineer’s needs.

Wolfe, H. (2003, June), Issues In Teaching Entrepreneurship To Heterogeneous Groups Of Students Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11885

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