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Qualitative Investigation on the Failure Experiences of Entrepreneurial Engineering Students

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

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 5

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count

14

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/37625

Download Count

63

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Paper Authors

biography

Thomas M. Katona California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Thomas Katona is an Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). He works in the BioMedical Engineering Department and has a joint appointment in the Orfalea College of Business. Before joining Cal Poly, he worked in startup companies in the LED and LED lighting industry. His roles in industry included leading product development teams, business development, and marketing.

He received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara, studying with the inventor of the blue and white LED, and an MBA from the University of South Carolina, Moore School of Business.

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biography

Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Sarah Zappe is Research Professor and Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement and testing. In her position, Sarah is responsible for developing instructional support programs for faculty, providing evaluation support for educational proposals and projects, and working with faculty to publish educational research. Her research interests primarily involve creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship education.

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Noa Dunevich California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Lauren Gase VentureWell

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Abstract

Entrepreneurial education has been rapidly expanding within universities over the past 15 years with colleges of engineering being amongst the most active participants in embedding entrepreneurship into curricular and cocurricular activities (Pittaway & Cope, 2007). Well-developed and theoretically grounded educational interventions have been shown to increase entrepreneurial skills and perception among students. (Pittaway & Cope, 2007; Matlay & Caray, 2007; Duval-Couetil & Wheadon, 2013; Duval-Couetil & Rheed-Roads, 2012). Organizations including the National Science Foundation through the Lean Launch Curriculum and I-Corps program, VentureWell through curriculum development grants and their E-Team program, and the Kern Family Foundation through the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN) have provided significant funding to embed and transform entrepreneurial teaching and practice into colleges of engineering (Matthew et al., 2017; Pistrui, Blessing & Mekemson, 2008; Smith et al. 2017). This activity combines with an added emphasis among engineering programs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset among their engineering students with the belief that this will lead to them being more productive and innovative whether their career path leads them into established industry (becoming “intrapreneurs”) or later as entrepreneurs.

While this trend toward developing more entrepreneurially minded engineering students is supported by global economic trends and a rapidly changing work environment, one factor has been largely overlooked in this process. Statistically, most entrepreneurial ventures fail, with disproportionately large value being created from a minority of entrepreneurial endeavors (Coats, 2019). Given this fact, until we find ways to drastically increase the success rate of entrepreneurial ventures, as we increase engineering students’ exposure to entrepreneurship, we are also increasing their exposure to failure very early in their careers. With this exposure, it is unknown whether sufficient preparation and education around project/venture failure is occurring to properly equip entrepreneurially minded engineering students to learn and grow from entrepreneurial failure.

In this work in progress study, current and former engineering students who formed entrepreneurial ventures and experienced either failure of the venture or significant failure during the venture are interviewed to better understand the influences that led to both adaptive and maladaptive responses to these failures. Participants have been selected from those that have received funding through the national VentureWell E-Team program. This program awards three levels of funding and provides mentorship, training, and networking for the teams. The study uses the framework developed by Henry, Shorter, Charkoudian, Heemstra, and Corwin (2018) in which they associate pre-failure dispositions related to fixed and growth mindset (Dweck, 2000, 2006) and mastery vs. performance disposition (Pintrich, 2000 a, b). Our work will utilize this framework to guide the research, but more importantly will provide a unique context for analysis, specifically within engineering entrepreneurship, which will add to the body of work and expand the understanding of this pre-failure/post-failure disposition framework. Initial interview data and analysis will be presented in the context of this framework with preliminary insights to be shared with those in the field.

Katona, T. M., & Zappe, S. E., & Dunevich, N., & Gase, L. (2021, July), Qualitative Investigation on the Failure Experiences of Entrepreneurial Engineering Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://strategy.asee.org/37625

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