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Mass-scale Online Synchronous Entrepreneurship Education for Engineers

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Ranji K. Vaidyanathan Oklahoma State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Ranji Vaidyanathan is presently the Varnadow Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Helmerich Research Center at OSU Tulsa. He was previously the Director of the New Product Development Center (NPDC) and the Inventors Assistance Service (IAS) at Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Vaidyanathan has eighteen U. S. patents and twenty-two pending patent applications. He has developed six different products from concept stage to commercial stage including a product commercially being sold to Airbus, Eurocopter, Lockheed and Boeing.

At Oklahoma State University, Ranji works collaboratively with faculty members from various disciplines and colleges to develop products and solutions for Oklahoma small manufacturers. As the Varnadow Professor, Dr. Vaidyanathan works with the Helmerich Research Center faculty to develop a major research and technology transfer thrust in composite materials.

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Shalini Sabharwal Gopalkrishnan Menlo College

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Dr. Shalini Gopalkrishnan (Doctor of Business Administration, University of Florida) is an international academician and entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience in Academics, management consulting, entrepreneurial endeavors and training in the private corporate sector. She is an award-winning professor of entrepreneurship with years of corporate and academic experience. Her research interests include international business, social entrepreneurship, business analytics and technology applications for business. She is a winner of “Excellence in teaching” at the xvii experiential classroom in Entrepreneurship at University of Florida, September 2016, and the winner of Global Brainstorm Challenge “Global Women’s Leadership Alliance: 5 million women change agents improving our world in 5 years”. Dr. Gopalkrishnan is a judge at UC Berkley LAUNCH and BIG IDEAS competition. She is a member of Data Kind and, Youth Business USA. She has founded startups such as, Introspect and Lexion Global and worked as a consultant with A F Ferguson (then part of KPMG) and worked on projects with USAID, Fortune 500 firms and the Government. She has volunteered with Junior achievement, Big Brother Big Sister, Page 15, World Affairs Council, Girl Scouts, Hands on Atlanta and Orlando. Dr. Gopalkrishnan earned her Bachelor of Mathematics/statistics degree from Bombay University, Masters in Business (PGDM) from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, India and her Doctoral credentials from University of Florida.

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Engineers create things but are thought of as “not good” at the business aspects for establishing and running a start-up company. For many decades the business of ideas and creating startups was relegated to the business schools with engineers coming in to just complete the creative part of the business or to create the Minimum Viable Product or MVP. But for the last decade or so, we have seen a proliferation of engineering schools offer entrepreneurship education. Many faculty and engineering students act as the entrepreneurial leads and participate in the Innovation Corps programs offered by NSF and it has been successful. In order to accelerate this for a country like India, we embarked on a mass online education course. MOOCs have a long history and have primarily been asynchronous and it can be offered to international students. In this article we delineate how we modified that approach by piloting this synchronously. TheCovid19 situation was an added incentive to offer this course to students who cannot meet in person due to restrictions for in-person classes. Over 350 students from 20 different engineering colleges from India were recruited for a pilot program along with the faculty from their schools. Each college recruited approximately 20 students and 1 faculty for the course. The course is being offered using the “Lean Launchpad” methodology, teaching one class per two weeks. The expectation is that the faculty participating in the course will be able to use this course as the foundation for offering entrepreneurship courses for credit as required by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The teaching team consisted of business and engineering faculty from different parts of the US, while the students were from different parts of India. Any platform such as Zoom, GoToMeeting or MS Teams can be used for teaching the class, while Canvas is used to post the lecture slides, videos and homework assignments. Classes ranged from topics such as ideation, business model canvas, customer discovery, challenges for high-tech start-ups, financing, etc. The students were also required to conduct customer discovery using social distancing and vide platforms as far as possible. The paper will explain the process of creating such Synchronous MOOCs specifically for Entrepreneurship education and the lessons learnt. It will be used to expand the offering to a larger group of students and faculty in the future. We expect the course to have been offered once by the time the draft paper is submitted. We also expect this approach to be scalable to US as well as other developing nations.

Vaidyanathan, R. K., & Gopalkrishnan, S. S. (2021, July), Mass-scale Online Synchronous Entrepreneurship Education for Engineers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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