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Students Seeking Different Paths to Entrepreneurial Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division – Program Development & Desired Outcomes

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1431.1 - 26.1431.14



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Paper Authors


Sergio Celis Universidad de Chile

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Sergio Celis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering and Sciences at the Universidad de Chile. He conducts research on higher education, with a focus on teaching and learning in STEM fields. His primary research interest is in how multiple forces, internal and external to the institution, influence what and how we teach in colleges and universities. His doctoral thesis investigated how social and intellectual movements influenced the emergence of entrepreneurship education in engineering. Sergio received his professional degree in industrial engineering at the University of Chile and his Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Michigan.

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Aileen Huang-Saad University of Michigan

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Aileen is an Associate Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship and Biomedical Engineering. Previously, Aileen was the Associate Director for Academics in the Center for Entrepreneurship and was responsible for building the Program in Entrepreneurship for UM undergraduates, co-developing the masters level entrepreneurship program, and launching the biomedical engineering graduate design program. Aileen has received a number of awards for her teaching, including the Thomas M. Sawyer, Jr. Teaching Award, the UM ASEE Outstanding Professor Award and the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award. Prior to joining the University of Michigan faculty, she worked in the private sector gaining experience in biotech, defense, and medical device testing at large companies and start-ups. Aileen’s current research areas include entrepreneurship engineering education, impact and engaged learning. Aileen has a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate of Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Aileen is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Sigma Gamma.

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Students Seeking Different Paths to Entrepreneurial Education Numerous engineering schools report engaged learning approaches to teachingentrepreneurship (e.g., U.S. Department of Commerce, 2013; see also Borrego et al., 2010). As aresult, numerous beyond the classroom experiences have emerged from entrepreneurshipeducation initiatives (e.g., study trips, student startup accelerators, and pitch competitions) alongwith more structured academic plans (e.g., certificates, minors) (Gilmartin et al., 2014). Thus, itis possible to distinguish between a curricular and a co-curricular path to entrepreneurshipeducation in engineering. Although these paths co-exists in numerous academic environments,little is known about what type of students are attracted to these paths and how they may differfrom each other. This paper tests the hypothesis that students who are attracted to curricularprograms are different from those who seek co-curricular experience only. For instance, wepredict that the former have more successful academic trajectories (e.g., greater GPA) andbelong to demographic groups usually underrepresented in technological entrepreneurialenvironments (e.g., females) than the latter group of students (Google, 2014). We collected data from an entrepreneurship program anchored in a college of engineeringCenter for Entrepreneurship at a large public research university in the Midwest. For the pastseven years, this program has run a certificate in entrepreneurship that is available to all studentson campus. Interested students can declare the program in entrepreneurship anytime after theirfreshman year. This certificate represents the curricular path for entrepreneurship education atthis college. This path includes an introductory seminar and an intensive practicum onentrepreneurship, as well as multiple elective courses. Two major co-curricular entrepreneurialactivities are sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship: A student-run startup accelerator andan intensive trip to the Bay Area to pitch entrepreneurial ideas in front of seasoned entrepreneursand investors. Overall, our data consists of institutional records of 1,246 students whoparticipated in these curricular and co-curricular activities over the past seven years. Of thosestudents, 726 enrolled in the certificate (56%), 471 participated in at least one of the co-curricular programs organized by the center (38%), and 49 participated in both curricular and co-curricular activities (6%). We use multiple univariate analyses to test differences among thesegroups. In the full paper, we review the literature on curricular and co-curricular paths inentrepreneurship education and in engineering education in general. We present the rationale forour hypothesis and describe the data collection and analytical methods of this work. Finally, wediscuss the results and implication for practice and for future research. This study sheds light onthe consequences of emphasizing either the curricular or co-curricular aspects ofentrepreneurship education. These results, for instance, might help programs seek to promote adiverse environment in engineering and entrepreneurship education. Furthermore, these resultsset a baseline for future research on the outcomes of curricular or co-curricular approaches toentrepreneurship education. Understanding the singular contribution of these paths and the bestways of supplementing each other will enrich the teaching and learning environments for futureentrepreneurs.References:Borrego, M., Froyd, J. E., & Simin Hall, T. (2010). Diffusion of Engineering Educationinnovations: A Survey of Awareness and Adoption rates in U.S. Engineering Departments.Journal of Engineering Education, 99(3), 185–207.Gilmartin, S., Shartrand, A., Chen, H., Estrada, C., & Sheppard, S. (2014). U.S.-BasedEntrepreneurship Programs for Undergraduate Engineers: Scope, Development, Goals, andPedagogies. Epicenter Technical Brief 1. Retrieved from (2014, May 28). Getting to work on diversity at Google [Web log post]. Retrieved from Department of Commerce (2013). The innovative and entrepreneurial university: Highereducation, innovation & entrepreneurship in focus. Retrieved from

Celis, S., & Huang-Saad, A. (2015, June), Students Seeking Different Paths to Entrepreneurial Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24768

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