Asee peer logo

Students As Consultants: A Project Course Combining Entrepreneurship And Green Technology

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and Design

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1129.1 - 15.1129.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


William Hornfeck Lafayette College

visit author page

Professor Hornfeck earned MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. He earned the BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University. Hornfeck has taught at Lafayette College for twenty-two years, and has combined his interest in energy studies with international engineering education. He has led study abroad programs in Belgium and Germany.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Students as Consultants: A Project Course Combining Entrepreneurship and Green Technology


This paper describes an independent study course at an undergraduate college that immerses an interdisciplinary team of six students in a consulting role. Two professors guide the direction taken by the students, a third professor coordinates students’ involvement in a related research project, and an outside “client” directs the team toward local economic development. Students come from backgrounds in engineering, social sciences, natural sciences, and the humanities. The consulting “contract” specifies the economic incentives for the work, and also steers the class toward the technological areas that present a fit for development and entrepreneurship. The region targeted for development is one where a once-healthy mining industry is in severe decline. The technology identified for entrepreneurial investment involves green-powered low-speed transportation. The paper describes the year-long progress of the team and the project goals. As the United States emerges from what some have termed the great recession, courses of the type described in this paper offer students the chance to be involved in the kind of activities that help to grow the economy.


Engineering accreditation standards have targeted the importance of students’ educational experiences that go beyond the core technical competencies. That is, learning that includes critical thinking, teamwork, communication skills, and lifelong learning. Lafayette College describes itself as a liberal arts college with engineering, and the integration of these academic areas is an important element of the college’s mission. This paper describes an interdisciplinary course that is structured to accomplish not only the integration of diverse educational fields but to build a practical knowledge base for entrepreneurial purposes.1,2

The framework of this and other Technology Clinic courses is:

the recruitment of six undergraduate students from diverse academic divisions, i.e., engineering, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities a teaching team of two professors from different academic divisions a project sponsor from outside (or from within) the college having a problem to be solved and funding the course at an appropriate nominal rate a first semester aimed at building an effective consulting team, an understanding of the project goals and background studies related to the work, and the development of novel approaches to the problem solution delivery of a product at the conclusion of the second semester that includes a final report, formal presentation, and ideas for follow-on implementation of ideas and possible commercial applications.

Hornfeck, W. (2010, June), Students As Consultants: A Project Course Combining Entrepreneurship And Green Technology Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015