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Lead User Experiential Learning - 'Learn-by-Doing' Pathway to Financial Self-Sufficiency

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Michael D. Whitt California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Dr. Michael D. Whitt is currently instructing in the Biomedical Engineering Department at California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. His academic and industrial experiences include academic positions with the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, Miami Dade College, and Purdue University, in addition to experiences with Fortune 500 pharmaceutical and medical device companies. He is a Founder of a medical device start-up, Cordex Systems, Inc., which has developed a noninvasive early detection method for cardiovascular disease.

Michael’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, a Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University/University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UNDNJ), and a Masters in Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. While at Rutgers/UMDNJ, Michael focused his studies in the areas of biomechanics and biomaterials while simultaneously performing research in the areas of medical instrumentation and hemodynamics.

Michael is a patent holder of US and international patents and has carried the importance of product development into his involvements with the non-profit organizations Center for Leadership Development (Indianapolis, IN) and Academy of Business Leadership (Rosemead, CA) while helping to facilitate the success of each group’s mission to ‘foster the advancement of minority youth in central Indiana as future professional, business, and community leaders’ and develop youth that will become ‘the agents of change needed to make a difference in their communities, schools, and world.’. Michael is the 2008 Center for Leadership Development Achievement in Science and Technical Disciplines Award Recipient.

Michael is committed to the development of opportunities to contribute for students, healthcare clinicians, and community members.

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Nancy L. Denton P.E. Purdue Polytechnic Institute's School of Engineering Technology

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Nancy L. Denton, PE, CVA3, is a professor in Purdue University's School of Engineering Technology, where she serves as associate head for MET. She is a past member of the Vibration Institute's Board Directors, and serves on their Academic and Certification Scheme Committees. She is a Fellow of ASEE and a member of ASME.

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Christopher Heylman California Polytechnic State University

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Rodney Gene Handy

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The employment needs of the STEM workforce have been steadily increasing over the past decade. Many opportunities exist for students that have been properly trained to contribute in the STEM areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 100% of STEM occupations will see an increase in jobs in the next decade. As a result, retention of students in engineering schools is important to future productivity (GDP) across all sectors. A model is proposed where Kolb Experiential Learning Cycle fundamentals in conjunction with development of student ‘lead user’ abilities would have a significant effect on academic metrics associated with student outcomes such as student retention as well as professional metrics in the areas of placement and career development. The proposed model would supply the impetus for a Value Mitosis Initiative (VMI) at any college/university where the learning model would lead to increased equity and GDP in the university/college community and adjacent communities. Proper development of the lead user experiential learning model would lead to improvement in academic and professional metrics associated with accreditation associated with student outcomes and institutional support as well as provide the foundation for financial self-sufficiency within the school as well as communities associated with the school.

This same lead user idea development process can be implemented within any community taking conceptual ideas developed by talented people from within that community whose abilities may be underestimated, undervalued, and marginalized and developing their ideas into products providing employment opportunities in addition to equity for that given community. The Corporation for Economic Development launched The Racial Wealth Divide Initiative in September 2013 in New Orleans and Miami and has expanded into Baltimore and Chicago in 2017. Their mission is focused on United States wealth inequality statistics.

In 2013, United States wealth inequality statistics were:

Metric Black Latino White Overall Average Household Wealth $85K $98K $656K $509K Median Household Wealth $1700 $2000 $117K $64K Table 1. US Wealth Inequality Statistics

The goal of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative is to have a significant effect on these wealth inequality statistics in specific cities. Lead user experiential learning is one tool that could ultimately have a significant effect on this statistic.

Lead user experiential learning could serve as a valuable tool not only in academic settings but also within any community outside academia. These communities could be rural, socio-economically disadvantaged, or clinical groups (e.g. physicians, nurses, physical therapists, etc.) to name a few. The resulting value is both in tangible (new product development, equity, etc.) and intangible (creating opportunities for people to contribute, creating excitement through application of STEM fundamentals, etc.).

Whitt, M. D., & Denton, N. L., & Heylman, C., & Handy, R. G. (2019, June), Lead User Experiential Learning - 'Learn-by-Doing' Pathway to Financial Self-Sufficiency Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33045

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