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WIP: Entrepreneurial Identity Formation in First Year Bioengineers

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Division Poster Session (Works in Progress)

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Biomedical Engineering

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Yah-el Har-El Temple University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Har-el is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Bioengineering at Temple University. She teaches courses in Drug Delivery and Biodesign and labs in Biomaterials (intro and advanced). She also teaches the Frontiers in Bioengineering course for freshmen and coordinates the senior design teams in Bioengineering. In the department she chairs the Graduate Affairs Committee and the Curriculum Committee.

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Thomas V. Edwards Jr. Temple University


Ruth Ochia P.E. Temple University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Ruth S. Ochia is a Professor of Instruction with the Bioengineering Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. Her past research interests have included Biomechanics, primarily focusing on spine-related injuries and degeneration. Currently, her interests are in engineering education, curriculum development, and assessment at the undergraduate level.

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Introduction: A recent study within the College of Engineering has shown that junior-level students identify with being “inventors,” which is one of the three identities of the entrepreneurial thinking personality. [1] The entrepreneurial thinking dimensions include “specific aspects of systems planning, operationalizing innovative ideas, establishing organizational culture by example, big picture thinking, problem posing, thinking outside the box, realizing a vision, institutionalizing best practices, taking risks, learning from failure, founding startups, persuading others to follow, catalyzing change, market savvy, and identifying opportunities.” [2] recent curricular changes have focused on technical problem-solving skills and design thinking. These skills are described by “problem posing” and “identifying opportunities,” which are within the “inventor” identity. However, this is where our curricular activities typically end with little to no student exposure to the other identities. The Bioengineering department has one senior-level course that touches on taking products to market. However, this is an elective course that only about 5-10% of our senior students chose to take (approximately 10-15 students/year). The knowledge of how to take a potential idea and move it further than technical design is not required coursework for any of our engineering disciplines. Thus, many students are unaware of approaches needed to translate ideas into actual marketable concepts. They are best described by “persuading others to follow”, “market savvy”, “catalyzing change”, and “operationalizing innovative ideas”. These concepts are better encapsulated by the other two entrepreneurial thinking personalities, namely ‘founder’ (a person who wants to create firms/companies based on ideas or social motivations) and ‘developer’ (a person who wants to take nascent firms/companies further than just initial stages).

Materials and Methods: The revision of our introductory bioengineering course (BIOE 2001) to include materials and activities for students to be introduced to the ‘founder’ and ‘developer’ concepts. A majority of our students have not been introduced to entrepreneurial concepts outside of our curriculum and do not readily attempt to take any ideas outside of the classroom environment. We hypothesize that first-year Bioengineering students exposed to all three entrepreneurial identities will be able to move viable ideas beyond the on-paper class projects.

Results and Discussion: This proposed intervention will enhance our current approach to 'inventor' identity by creating modules that will allow students to walk through the process of moving ideas through to commercialization. We feel that early exposure to all engineering identities through these proposed interventions will allow students to develop skills needed in their future careers, namely realizing a vision, persuading others to follow and support this vision, and catalyzing change with their vision. We propose to incorporate entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial concepts within the class format; develop college-wide workshops on innovation, entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship (the first is scheduled for Fall 2020); develop an Entrepreneurship Advisory Council (EAC), which will review student team projects from BIOE 2001, in addition to, mentor student teams with projects that are viable for prototyping and commercialization using the stage-gate process.

Outcomes will be assessed via survey of our junior level students in bioengineering to determine a baseline for engineering identity based on prior work. [1] Students in BIOE 2001 will receive additional instructional modules and their course projects reviewed and screened by our EAC. Our initial intervention will be conducted during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Acknowledgements: Research supported by VentureWell Foundation Grant #20071-19

References: [1] Edwards, TV and Pillapakkam, S. (2018) “Engineering leadership and entrepreneurial personality,” Proceedings of the American Society of Management: International Conference. (accepted) [2] Rottmann, C, Sacks, R, and Reeve, D. (2015) “Engineering leadership attitudes and experiences different than other students” Leadership, 11(3), 351-373.

Har-El, Y., & Edwards, T. V., & Ochia, R. (2021, July), WIP: Entrepreneurial Identity Formation in First Year Bioengineers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38085

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