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The Enterprise Program At Michigan Technological University Results And Assessment To Date

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Building Cross-Disciplinary Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1133.1 - 8.1133.10

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Paper Authors

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Mark Plichta

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Mary Raber

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

Session 3454

The Enterprise Program at Michigan Technological University Results and Assessment To Date

Dr. Mark R. Plichta Mary B. Raber

Michigan Technological University

Abstract In 2000, Michigan Technological University restructured its entire curricular offering in associa- tion with an academic calendar change from quarters to semesters. As part of this restructuring the university developed the Enterprise Program (, a new and innovative experience that provides all students on campus, but especially engineering majors, an opportunity to start-up and operate their own business.

Within engineering programs the philosophy behind the Enterprise Program is to provide a flexible curricular structure that leads to a traditional engineering degree while at the same time enabling students to participate in the operation of a real enterprise over multiple years. Now in its third year of operation, the program has grown to seventeen enterprises comprised of approximately 400 students from 19 disciplines. This paper presents an overview of the curricular structure of the program (recently approved as a Minor) and the results of assessment performed to date. Successes and challenges associated with this innovative entrepreneurial curriculum will also be discussed.

I. Introduction

As part of the engineering curricular development at Michigan Technological University (MTU) associated with the calendar conversion from quarters to semesters, each engineering department was required to construct their new curricula within several college prescribed boundary condi- tions. One of the constraints relevant to this paper was the required inclusion of a major design experience, preferably interdisciplinary in nature. As such, two options have been made available to all students. Within the 'traditional' path a year-long, 6-semester credit senior design sequence is available in each engineering degree program. This common structure facilitates the formation of interdisciplinary teams when needed. The second option available to students, still leading to the same engineering degree, is referred to as the 'Enterprise' path and includes a greater emphasis on communications and business aspects of the engineering profession.

The Enterprise Program includes an extensive multi-year, multi-disciplinary design experience. Within this option the college/university establishes a number of engineering/business entities, called enterprises, and students choose to join the company and work with other students and faculty to make the enterprise a successful venture. Each Enterprise, for the most part, operates much like a real company in the private sector. The employees (students) solve real-world problems, perform testing and analyses, make recommendations, build prototypes, manufacture

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2003, American Society for Engineering Education.

Plichta, M., & Raber, M. (2003, June), The Enterprise Program At Michigan Technological University Results And Assessment To Date Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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