Dr. Meyer presented the following abstract at the ASEE Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana in June. The paper focuses on two initiatives: fostering the entrepreneurial mindset in the first year introduction to engineering course and successfully combining discipline-specific courses into a multi-discipline course.
Combining Discipline-specific Introduction to Engineering Courses into a Single Multi-discipline Course to Foster the Entrepreneurial Mindset with Entrepreneurially Minded Learning
Andrew L. Gerhart, Donald D. Carpenter, Robert W. Fletcher, Eric G. Meyer
While most first year introduction to engineering courses focus on design and problem solving, at the same time familiarizing the student with basic technical content, very few also focus on the entrepreneurial mindset – a way of thinking increasingly required of engineers entering the workforce. Skills associated with the entrepreneurial mindset such as effective communication (written, verbal, and graphical), teamwork, ethics and ethical decision-making, customer awareness, persistence, creativity, innovation, time management, critical thinking, global awareness, self-directed research, life-long learning, learning through failure, tolerance for ambiguity, and estimation are as important in the workforce as technical aptitude. In fact, employer feedback has indicated that graduates with these skills are more highly sought than those with an overly technical education since technical engineering skills can be readily obtained on the job; the entrepreneurial mindset takes years of practice/refinement. Although students may eventually begin practicing many entrepreneurial mindset skills in the curriculum especially during a senior project sequence, it is paramount that the importance of the entrepreneurial mindset is stressed in the first year. This paper will include details of how to integrate all of the skills listed here into well-established design projects, homework, and active learning classroom modules in a first year engineering course using entrepreneurially minded learning. Informal interviews with students reveals successful implementation.
As the lines between engineering disciplines are becoming more blurry, employers also covet engineering graduates whose technical skills span a variety of disciplines. Engineers must work on teams that are diverse, and being able to understand and communicate the broad field of engineering is vital to success. Therefore, while completing an engineering degree, students need to become familiar with a multitude of engineering disciplines and work with students from many departments. This is not a new concept and many introduction to engineering courses are interdisciplinary. On the other hand, many colleges still contain only discipline-specific introduction to engineering courses. Over the past year and a half, Lawrence Technological University underwent a successful college-wide transition from many discipline-specific introduction to engineering courses to a multi-discipline course. This paper will outline keys to a successful transition including pitfalls to avoid and working with university administrators, faculty, and staff during the transition.
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