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Predicting Entrepreneurial Intent among Entry-Level Engineering Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Learning and Assessment in ME

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.996.1 - 24.996.37



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Paper Authors


Mark F. Schar Stanford University

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Dr. Schar works in the Center for Design Research - Designing Education Lab at Stanford University. He is also a member of the Symbiotic Project of Affective Neuroscience Lab at Stanford University and a lecturer in the School of Engineering. Dr. Schar’s area of research is ”pivot thinking,” which is the intersection of design thinking and the neuroscience of choice, where he has several research projects underway. He has a 30-year career in industry as a vice president with The Procter & Gamble Company and senior vice president and chief marketing officer with Intuit in Silicon Valley. Dr. Schar has a B.S.S. from Northwestern University, an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.

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Sarah L. Billington Stanford University

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Sarah Billington is a professor and associate chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Her research group focuses on sustainable, durable construction materials and their application to structures and construction. She teaches an undergraduate class on introductory solid mechanics as well as graduate courses in structural concrete behavior and design. Most recently she has initiated an engineering education research project on the impact of online activities on mechanics self-efficacy and achievement.

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Sheri D. Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education-related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2003 Dr. Sheppard was named co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to form the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), along with faculty at the University of Washington, Colorado School of Mines, and Howard University. More recently (2011), she was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experience includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three" automakers: Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate and is currently the associate vice provost for graduate education.

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Engineering + X: Designing and Delivering Scenarios that connect Core Engineering Concepts with Entrepreneurship ContentThe successful practice of engineering in today’s workplace requires the integration of a broadrange of skills that often extend beyond standard engineering curricula. This involvesinterpersonal skills such as teamwork, communication and persuasion, and business skills suchas entrepreneurship, cost management and marketing. In a packed undergraduate engineeringcurriculum, there are limited opportunities to challenge students to integrate domains beyond thetechnical into their thinking and decision-making. We refer to these non-engineering domains asthe “+ X” topics.We are developing a new kind of core engineering curriculum that we call “Engineering + X.”This is accomplished through a contextual reframing of core engineering concepts that purposelyincorporates perspective from another domain. As a test of this idea, we have a very specificstarting point – entry-level mechanical engineering curriculum (statics) and a “+ X” ofentrepreneurship delivered in the context of a business school-style scenarios and hands-on labexperiences.The learning theory that guides this work draws on Kolb’s experiential learning model,[1] whichwas used to construct the scenarios. The scenarios encourage students to cycle between abstractconceptualization and concrete experience while the lab experiences and “+ X” conceptsstimulate active experimentation and reflective observation. The key challenges with thiscurricula are two-fold: 1) not diminishing the learning of core mechanical engineering contentwith the addition of “+ X” perspective, and 2) supporting faculty who will be asked to teachingconcepts beyond their formal area of expertise and interest.The focus of this paper will be on the process of designing one of these scenarios (including thehands-on lab), as well as the challenges of using this curriculum with students. The process ofdesigning a scenario will be reviewed starting with 1) the core engineering pedagogical concepts,2) the bundling of the engineering concepts into one integrated concept, 3) brainstormingpossible entrepreneurial situations that feature the selected engineering concepts, 4) designing ahands-on lab that demonstrates the engineering concepts and, finally, 5) writing the scenario in away that both engages and informs the student.This paper will also explore the faculty implications of teaching “+ X” scenarios, includingfeedback from faculty who has used this curriculum in the classroom. Student feedback on theexperience will also be shared. Implications on future scenario development will be discussed.[1] Kolb D. A., Boyatzis R. E., and Mainemelis C., 2000, “Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions,” Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles, R. Sternberg J., and L.-F. Zhang, eds., Lawrence Erlbaum, NJ, pp. 227–247.

Schar, M. F., & Billington, S. L., & Sheppard, S. D. (2014, June), Predicting Entrepreneurial Intent among Entry-Level Engineering Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22929

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