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Using Technical Entrepreneurship Case Studies To Develop The Entrepreneurial Mindset In Engineering Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Course-Based Approaches to Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1360.1 - 13.1360.16



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Paper Authors

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Jonathan Weaver University of Detroit Mercy

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Nassif Rayess University of Detroit Mercy

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


The flattening of the world is rejuvenating the call for engineering colleges to better educate students to be creative and innovative. In addition, the number of engineers going to work for start-ups and smaller companies continues to rise. The recent growth of entrepreneurship programs and minors aimed at engineering and other technical professions seems to support the hypothesis that engineers who are more entrepreneurially minded are essential to the future technical competitiveness of the country. Many institutions with already packed engineering curricula are struggling with how to better develop the entrepreneurial mindset in their technical and engineering students.

Intercollegiate entrepreneurship education is well underway at The University of Detroit Mercy (UDM). Through support from the Kern Family Foundation (two grants), the Lemelson Foundation (administered by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance), Ford Motor Company, and the Jesuit 100 Association, we have already piloted four new courses and are currently preparing a proposal for a minor in entrepreneurship.

As part of the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) Program sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation, UDM is developing a number of entrepreneurship case studies which are being integrated into existing engineering fundamental courses. These case studies are intended to illustrate how entrepreneurs have capitalized on their knowledge of specific engineering topics. The aim is to provide routine exposures to successful engineering entrepreneurs and principles of entrepreneurship throughout the curriculum. The ideal, long-term vision is that each engineering course would have one or more corresponding case studies. This paper will summarize the three cases which have been developed and piloted thus far. The materials have been developed using rich media and will be made freely available to KEEN partners and other colleges wishing to utilize them.


There is a strong emerging consensus that traditional higher education curricula (business, engineering as well as professional curricula) need to be supplemented with the soft skills attributed to entrepreneurship. The understanding is that a workforce that is entrepreneurial and enterprising will help shield itself and the economy against the various global factors. These benefits are evident whether a person starts a small business, launches a technology start-up, becomes employed by a smaller company or simply excels in a large multi-national corporation.

Stipulating to the need for some entrepreneurship education, the discussion will shift to questions of how, when and where. The simplest mechanism is to include classes on entrepreneurship into the core curriculum. A quick web search reveals that some schools have been effective in integrating entrepreneurship into their core curriculums. Unfortunately, the authors' first-hand experience (UDM is currently in the process of redefining its core curriculum) is that

Weaver, J., & Rayess, N. (2008, June), Using Technical Entrepreneurship Case Studies To Develop The Entrepreneurial Mindset In Engineering Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3733

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