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Work-in-Progress – Entrepreneurial Mindset in First-Year Engineering Courses

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session III

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Conference Sessions

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Paper Authors


Mary Fraley Michigan Technological University

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Mary Fraley is a Sr. Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include online/blended learning methods, entrepreneurial mindset, and applying LEAN to the process of teaching and learning.

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Mary Raber Michigan Technological University

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Mary Raber currently serves as Assistant Dean for Academic Programs for the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Technological University. She also serves as co-Director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship and Director of the Global Leadership program. Her responsibilities include interdisciplinary program evaluation and assessment, course/workshop instruction in the areas of leadership and human centered design. She received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State University and is currently working on her PhD at Michigan Technological University. Before joining MTU she held various engineering and management positions during a 15 year career in the automotive industry.

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Gretchen L. Hein Michigan Technological University

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Gretchen Hein is a senior lecturer in Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech. She have been teaching ENG3200, Thermo-Fluids since 2005. She also teaches first-tear engineering classes. She has been active in incorporating innovative instructional methods into all course she teaches. Her research areas also include why students persist in STEM programs and underrepresented groups in engineering.

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One challenge faculty face when working with first-year engineering students is how to “hook” them into being interested and motivated in introductory courses. Many universities are experimenting with programs in entrepreneurship that focus on upper division students, but there are fewer examples of this in first-year programs. In the fall of 2017, first-year engineering students at our university completed a design project to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset. The student had the freedom to develop a product that would improve upon an existing design in an innovative way or to develop a new product with a designated purpose. Student teams self-selected their project and the projects developed encompassed seven classifications (University-Related Devices, Assistive Technologies, Outdoor Activities, Appliances, Personal Use Conveniences, Environmental/Road Management/Office Arrangement, and Phone/Portable Technologies). Over the course of the semester student teams completed project deliverables that included: • Team Contract • Design Thinking-Based Deliverables (Empathy Map, Problem Statement and Ideation, and Prototype/Test) • Project Proposal • Physical Concept Model (NX 3D model), along with a prototype constructed in the University’s Makerspace • Hazard Analysis • Resource Budget • MATLAB Product Marketability Analysis • Design Project Poster, student teams defended their work to evaluators from the university community at a session similar to the University’s annual Design Expo • Final Project Book

When researching other institutions where entrepreneurial design projects had been completed, there was little information on what or how students or teams self-select design ideas. Although most of the ENG1102 teams had good ideas, some of their design ideas already existed or were poorly implemented. Only six teams had a truly innovative idea with a viable path to implementation. This suggests that in future courses, the design project would be improved if additional constraints were incorporated. Possible constraints include targeting: • A specific population (i.e.: children, adults, physically/mentally challenged) • A geographical region • A global/regional issue

This paper not only describes what was observed and analyzed for this introductory engineering course, but it also outlines key lessons learned during this semester, next steps to improve the course, and suggestions for how others could start this type of project in their own FYEE program.

Fraley, M., & Raber, M., & Hein, G. L. (2018, July), Work-in-Progress – Entrepreneurial Mindset in First-Year Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey.

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