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Teaching Entrepreneurship through Virtues

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Student Entrepreneurial Skills and Mindset II

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1390.1 - 22.1390.21

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Paper Authors


Calvin C. Jen Calvin College

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Cal Jen, M.Arch., is currently serving as an associate professor of business at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI where he has taught business full-time for the past four years. He has previously taught architecture for 12 years as adjunct faculty at the University of Michigan and at Calvin College. He has 30 years of business experience in architecture and corporate management including 15 years as the founder and principal architect of AMDG Architects, and nine years as the senior vice president of real estate and human resources for Domino's Farms (global headquarters of Domino's Pizza). Cal has also served on a wide variety of not for profit boards. His interests include the integration of faith in all types and aspects of business including engineering and architecture, and the use of business in international community development.

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Tyler Scott Helmus Calvin College

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Tyler S. Helmus is a student currently enrolled in Calvin College's engineering program. He expects to graduate in 2012 and hopes to attend graduate school after. research interests include robotics and control systems.

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Steven H. VanderLeest Calvin College

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Steven H. VanderLeest is a Professor of Engineering at Calvin College, Vice-President of Research & Development at DornerWorks, Ltd., and partner at squishLogic LLC. He obtained the M.S.E.E. from Michigan Technological University and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include appropriate technology, entrepreneurship, Agile software development, and safety-critical embedded systems (particularly digital avionics). He can be contacted by email at

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Teaching Entrepreneurship through VirtuesThe literature on entrepreneurship has moved from early analysis of the characteristics of theentrepreneur to a wider understanding of the interactions of the individual with theirenvironment. That is, success depends not only on the personality and skills of the entrepreneurthemselves, but also on the social network they find themselves in (or intentionally develop). Anew enterprise flourishes or fails depending on a complex milieu of factors. As educators at afaith-based school, we have found a pedagogical approach to be helpful that links individual andcommunity characteristics in a natural way to which students can relate: through virtues. Thisapproach can attract students to entrepreneurship who want to make a difference in the world,where they might not seek out the topic for the more typical reasons, such as the chance to createsomething new or the chance to get rich.First, we begin with an overview of the relationship between the individual and the community,including a review of the literature, focusing on the transition from personal characteristics ofentrepreneurs to the broader understanding of the entrepreneur in situ. Second, we propose anew way to think of the innovation cycle, based on the virtues of creativity, diligence, andwisdom, which are informed by other virtues, such as compassion, justice, and stewardship.Finally, we consider practical pedagogy to teach entrepreneurship using the virtues, which mayhelp faculty to move beyond simple teaching of skills towards a positive influence to increasestudent entrepreneurial behavior.ReferencesLow, Murray B. and Ian C. MacMillan, "Entrepreneurship: Concepts, Theory and Perspective," in Álvaro Cuervo, Domingo Ribeiro and Salvador Roig, eds., Entrepreneurship: Past Research and Future Challenges, New York: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2007, p. 131-154.K.R.G. Nair, Anu Pandey, "Characteristics of Entrepreneurs: An Empirical Analysis", Journal of Entrepreneurship, Vol. 15, No. 1, 47-61 (2006)Gayle E. Ermer and Steven H. VanderLeest, “Using Design Norms to Teach Engineering Ethics,” Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Conference, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June, 2002, pp. 9025-9034.

Jen, C. C., & Helmus, T. S., & VanderLeest, S. H. (2011, June), Teaching Entrepreneurship through Virtues Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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