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The Shark Tank Experience: How Engineering Students Learn to Become Entrepreneurs

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 10

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Tobias Haertel TU Dortmund University

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Tobias Haertel studied social sciences and put his research focus on science and technology studies as well as creativity in higher engineering education. In his work, he always tries to combine the depth and sophisticated spirit of the analogue world with the interconnectedness and usability of digital techniques.

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Claudius Terkowsky TU Dortmund University

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Since 2009, he is senior researcher, lecturer and trainer in higher engineering education. Since 2012, he is scientific lead of the "Engineering Education Research Group" at the Center for Higher Education / TU Dortmund University. He holds a degree in education and works for many years in engineering education research, higher education research, and science and technology studies. His current research fields are: teaching and learning in the engineering lab; fostering creativity in engineering; digital media in higher education and vocational training; engineering education cultures.

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Dominik May TU Dortmund University

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Dominik May holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from TU Dortmund University (Germany). Currently he is a research associate and doctoral candidate at the Center for Higher Education at TU Dortmund University in the area of engineering education research. In his position he is managing several research and development projects on engineering education and technical training. Furthermore he offers workshops on professional teaching and learning for engineering faculty. In his research Dominik May focuses, inter alia, on future requirements for science and engineering graduates, such as international competence, in order to become successful engineers in a globalized professional world. Therefore he designs and investigates respective educational strategies with a special focus on online solutions and the integration of remote laboratories. For his research and the development of several transnational online courses he benefits from his working experience in international companies and a broad international professional network. Furthermore Dominik May is founding member of both the Engineering Education Research Group at the Center for Higher Education and the Working Group for Engineering Education at the German Society for Higher Education (dghd).

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How can students learn to think like an entrepreneur, boost their creativity and aim at innovative success? Fostering creativity and entrepreneurship is not only a question of knowledge transfer, but has a lot to do with working with students’ personality, attitudes and–most important–courage. The research project “ELLI - Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Higher Engineering Education” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is focusing these questions and has developed a course concept that fosters engineering students’ creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. Based on the well-known television show “shark tank”, students have to generate ideas for successful start-up enterprises and prepare a pitch that is creative and personally convincing. Furthermore, students are asked to do “something unusual”. In this paper, we want to present the results and experiences made in the first two terms with this course concept. Combined with the Business Model Canvas, the students were able to learn a lot of knowledge about designing business models and entrepreneurship in general. But surprisingly, students showed difficulties in taking risks – even in the playful simulation of the pitches. They tried to avoid uncertainty, which is essential for being creative or being an entrepreneur. As a possible reason, the influence of engineering education at all is discussed.

Haertel, T., & Terkowsky, C., & May, D. (2016, June), The Shark Tank Experience: How Engineering Students Learn to Become Entrepreneurs Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27018

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