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Work in Progress: Transforming Undergraduate Learning in the Pursuit of Innovation: Transdisciplinary Coursework and Its Influence on Entrepreneurial Thinking

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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

Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Jackson Otto Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jackson Otto is a masters student in the department of Technology, Leadership, and Innovation at Purdue University. He received his B.S. in Engineering Technology Teacher Education from Purdue as well, and is currently focusing on research surrounding design thinking in STEM-related education and activities. He can be reached at

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Greg J. Strimel Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Greg J. Strimel, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Technology Leadership and Innovation and coordinator of the Design & Innovation Minor at Purdue University. Dr. Strimel conducts research on design pedagogy, cognition, and assessment as well as the preparation of K-12 engineering teachers.

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Universities have long played a crucial role in shaping society’s responses to changing technologies, economies, and living environments. However, to continue to harness the nation's great technological potential, universities must seek to better prepare undergraduates for addressing complex, contemporary challenges in both innovative and transdisciplinary ways. To best meet society’s needs, undergraduates must embrace the ability to build upon new ideas, processes, and ways of seeing things that add value to the world in a manner that emphasizes social and personal responsibility across fields of study. As the National Academy of Engineering [1] states, “innovative thinking should be an expectation of the university community and all students should be exposed to it early” (p. 6). Accordingly, multiple strategies have been enacted to attempt to engage students in innovation-focused learning, including engaging with design-based coursework in engineering settings [2] - [4] and providing learning experiences that emphasize entrepreneurial thinking [5] - [8]. While such initiatives strongly influence students, undergraduate learning continues to remain separated into individual silos, leaving students without access to authentic, transdisciplinary environments [9]. However, this paper highlights a recently developed transdisciplinary undergraduate education program focused on democratizing the practices of innovation across the broader college campus. Through this program students, regardless of their background or major, participate in co-teaching and co-learning from faculty and students in different academic units as they design, test, and optimize solutions to modern problems over multiple semesters. An examination of how the integration of these elements throughout multiple iterations of one component of the program will be presented along with its influence on students entrepreneurial thinking in regard to problem framing. These results will be positioned to better inform the development of similar educational programs as colleges and universities now have the responsibility to build a better future through the pandemic in novel and positive ways.

Otto, J., & Strimel, G. J. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Transforming Undergraduate Learning in the Pursuit of Innovation: Transdisciplinary Coursework and Its Influence on Entrepreneurial Thinking Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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