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Reel Entrepreneurs: Illustrating Entrepreneurship with Feature Films

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Case Studies in Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1029.1 - 23.1029.9



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Paper Authors


Zbigniew J Pasek University of Windsor

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Dr. Pasek received his PhD from the University of Michigan (1993). He is currently an Associate Professor in the department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Windsor, Canada. His interests include industrial automation, health care, service engineering and informal engineering education. He is a member of ASEE, ASME, SME and IEEE.

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Reel Entrepreneurs: Illustrating Entrepreneurship with Feature FilmsWe all learn in a number of different ways and the learning process can be facilitated through theuse of variety of viewpoints and media. Thus to reach everyone, a variety of instructionalmethods is used, each leaving a different “mental footprint.” The “cone of experience” indicatesthat people generally remember only about 10% of what they read, but 30% of what they see.In introducing entrepreneurial concepts to engineering students,, in particular content that isdifficult to describe analytically because it involves a variety of human actions, usefulenhancement is the use of video material to illustrate some practical situations and settings.Feature films can offer a trove of ideas that can be very impactful, if used selectively andjudiciously.Portrayal of certain professions in the popular media has a deep and lasting effect not only ongeneral public's understanding of these professions (with all potential misconceptions andattitudes), but also has an impact on future career choices. While movie screens and televisionshows put a spotlight on lawyers, doctors and policemen (and occasionally also on forensicscientists), they only occasionally pick entrepreneurs as the characters of interest.This paper has identifies and reviews a number of known and available portrayals ofentrepreneurs in feature films. A brief selection of titles is included. A few examples areanalyzed in more detail.For example, The First $20 Million Are Always the Hardest (dir. M. Jackson, 2002) tells a storyof an engineering team pursuing development of $100 computer, initially within a corporatesetting, and then striking it on their own. It richly illustrates the entrepreneurial spirit in abusiness startup, teamwork, legal issues, and creativity.Another great entrepreneurial story is told in a Japanese feature film Tampopo (dir. J. Itami,1985), which follows trials and tribulation of a widow determined to improve her fledglingnoodle shop. With the help of a newly found mentor, a truck driver, she goes through the basicsteps of rebuilding her business, succeeds in improving her food and wins hearts of hercustomers.The paper also assesses specific character and professional attributes, stereotypes (profession-,ethnicity or gender-based) and attributes known to facilitate viewer's identification with on-screen characters, of entrepreneurs portrayed in selected films.

Pasek, Z. J. (2013, June), Reel Entrepreneurs: Illustrating Entrepreneurship with Feature Films Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22414

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