Work-In-Progress: Early Student Exposure to an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Engineering Research

John Peponis, Mary Lauren Benton, Kenneth W. Van Treuren, Blake Everett Johnson, Liping Liu, Anthony M. Jacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Many studies have indicated that research experiences can be beneficial to undergraduate students. However, these experiences are not given the same importance as coursework by faculty and administrators designing curricula and undergraduate research (UGR) programs. In addition, UGR experiences could be greatly improved by the incorporation of an entrepreneurial mindset (EM) and entrepreneurially-minded learning (EML). This project has three objectives to impact undergraduates concerning research early in their program of study: (1) Knowledge, having awareness of basic facts about research; (2) Mindset, understanding the entrepreneurial mindset and its role in research; and (3) Motivation, lowering barriers to entry for undergraduates contemplating opportunities to engage in research. This work emphasizes connecting first- and second-year undergraduate students with research opportunities. Through a series of inspiring and intellectually stimulating videos, this project establishes the potential for students to create value for themselves and their communities by engaging in cutting-edge research activities. The videos and associated classroom activities are organized into modules using five fundamental questions: “What Is Research?,” “Why Should I Get Involved In Research?,” “What Is The Entrepreneurial Mindset?,” “How Does Research Get Done?,” and “How Can I Get Involved In Research?.” Through each of these topics the objectives of knowledge, mindset, and motivation are addressed. The project team has begun implementing these modules in first year engineering courses where students are introduced to broad themes in their major field of study. These introductory courses are the logical target venues for engaging undergraduates early in their academic careers. Students who engage with this content in the classroom will be surveyed to assess the effectiveness of the modules. There is a plan to conduct student surveys at the end of each course and one-year post exposure to evaluate both the immediate and long-term impact of the materials. The project team hypothesizes that students who engage early with the videos and paired curriculum will be more likely to participate in research and remain engaged for longer. Preliminary survey results support this hypothesis, showing students self-report learning gains and an increased interest in research and research-related careers. This project is part of a Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) initiative to infuse EM into UGR ecosystems at universities and use it to address common challenges in undergraduate research faced by faculty in a range of institutional settings. Faculty and administrators intent on boosting the productivity of UGR programs and engaging students will be interested in the development of this framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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