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Sustainable Senior Design: MVP Engine

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Anthony Ferrar Temple University

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Tony Ferrar is obsessed with student success. He focuses on preparing students for rewarding careers through pedagogical innovation and incorporating professional development into educational experiences. Anthony received his BS, MS, and PhD in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech, where his research revolved around air-breathing propulsion. As a graduate student he contributed to Virginia Tech’s Graduate Education Development Institute, Faculty Development Institute, and Networked Learning Initiatives. After graduating in 2015, he joined the BEARS Lab (B&E Applied Research and Science) in the nuclear engineering program at the University of Florida as postdoctoral researcher where he investigated spent fuel storage and cancer treatment. Throughout his graduate and postdoctoral experiences he participated in teaching, student mentorship, and faculty development as an instructor and advocate for learning innovation. He joined the Temple University faculty in 2015, where he focuses on Engineering Entrepreneurship, Social Networking and Connections in Higher Education, Peer-to-Peer Mentorship, and Open and Inclusive Education.

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Dustyn Roberts P.E. Temple University

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Dustyn Roberts received her B.S. in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (2003), her M.S. in Biomechanics & Movement Science (2004) from the University of Delaware, and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (2014) from New York University. She is passionate about translational research and engineering education.

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This Work in Progress paper reports on preliminary results of the Sustainable Senior Design: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Engine project, which addresses the gap in resources for sustainable entrepreneurship in the engineering curricula. The two main objectives are to 1) incentivize students to pursue sustainable entrepreneurship in their selection and implementation of their senior design projects, and 2) equip faculty with industry connections, resources, and teaching modules to raise awareness of sustainable design and give students actionable steps to follow.

Entrepreneurs often need an MVP as their ideas mature from a napkin sketch to a prototype. Our 3-semester, multidisciplinary Senior Design program is already well equipped to support the sustained effort that this level of innovation requires. During Engineering Seminar students develop the professional skills required to be successful engineers, divide into teams, propose a project for the next two courses, and get approval for the project from the teaching team. Next, in Senior Design Project I students begin to work in teams, identify their end goal, and work with the teaching team to start on a path that will lead to success. Finally, in Senior Design Project II student teams focus on implementing their plan and delivering a prototype in time for the end of semester design showcase.

This project maps the existing framework to a parallel sustainable entrepreneurship track. During Engineering Seminar students learn and practice Opportunity Recognition and Customer Discovery with the goal of empathizing with customers and defining a project goal. During Senior Design Project I students ideate, compare concepts, and select the most promising concept. Efforts in Senior Design Project II revolve around prototyping, testing, and iterating. Ultimately, successful student groups will be encouraged to pursue external funding to continue as a startup.

This work is funded by an external grant which enables the faculty team to incentivize student groups to pursue sustainable entrepreneurship. These incentives come in the form of extra prototyping resources and external support from entrepreneurial guest lectures, workshops, and mentorship programs. In the long-term, the faculty team plans to sustain these efforts by recruiting industry-sponsored senior design projects which will include nominal participation fees. In combination with the sustainable entrepreneurship track, these industry-sponsored programs will bolster the options available to our students.

This paper reports on the initial startup efforts of the MVP Engine Project. It elaborates on the framework, issues that arise when developing new course frameworks, and lessons learned while working with the pilot student teams.

Ferrar, A., & Roberts, D. (2019, June), Sustainable Senior Design: MVP Engine Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33332

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