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Fostering Entrepreneurship Through Targeted Adversity: A Senior Design Case Study

Nicholas Hosein, Lee Martin, Andre Knoesen
2020 Pacific Southwest Section Annual Conference Proceedings   unpublished
Lee Martin studies people's efforts to enhance their own learning environments, with a particular focus on mathematical, engineering, and design thinking. In everyday settings, he looks at the varied ways in which people assemble social, material, and intellectual resources for problem solving and learning. In school settings, he looks to find ways in which schools might better prepare students to be more resourceful and flexible in fostering their own learning. Abstract Engineering education
more » ... neering education has the potential for significant social and economic impacts through entrepreneurship. In this regard, most engineering curriculum falls short in three critical areas, thereby limiting its effectiveness. Firstly, students are often indoctrinated into the "specific approach to solve a problem" mindset when in fact real world technical problems are dynamic, nuanced and most importantly, can be solved many ways depending on the resources and expertise at hand. Secondly, aversion to risk is a side effect of the university grading system as thinking outside the textbook, trying new things and failing are typically not rewarded. These limitations exist in large part due to the difficulty of grading or ranking intellectual work outside of established boundaries. Finally, and most importantly, social intelligence is taught less, both implicitly and explicitly, than technical knowledge, especially in STEM fields. The ability to communicate, arbitrate and resolve tense social situation with empathy is as or more important than book knowledge when it comes to success in both entrepreneurship and industry as a whole. This paper outlines one methodology for entrepreneurial focused courses in engineering with the end goal of boosting students success in an existing company or with their own startup. This is accomplished using a highly social course format with gradually increasing assignment ambiguity, adversity and complexity while having fall backs and redundancy for predictable progression of the class as a whole. In our case study course, students design, assemble and test from-scratch IoT electronic products which are then entered into a university wide startup competition. A survey is created to determine students confidence in various areas related to success post graduation, either working in industry or starting their own venture. On average, 57% of students responded that the new format has advantages over other courses they are currently taking, with 28% reporting no difference and 15% indicating the opposite.
doi:10.18260/1-2--35719 fatcat:zsbb7pj3pbhxrdvljskdsgyg24