Engineers and Entrepreneurial Thinking
Frank T. Koe, Ph.D.
School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs
This GIFTS presentation acknowledges that engineering studies coupled with exposure to entrepreneurship training develops a mindset that contributes to innovation and solutions to complex problems.
Through exposure to entrepreneurial thinking, engineering students are encouraged to identify needs, evaluate the issues and markets and to create a global perspective. Although engineering design is part of most engineering programs through the US where the use of new knowledge is applied, such courses do not always encourage a creative mindset. Developing models and possibly incorporating additive manufacturing helps a great deal to engage students in their engineering courses but may not go far enough to incorporating questions such as: When is an idea an opportunity?
We know that the mindset of an engineer develops very early in life with a passion to figure out how existing things work--or do not work for that matter. Studying complex STEM subjects in depth over time develops a mindset quite different from students who are not engineering majors. It is easy to see why some students see courses unrelated to their engineering major as simply a distraction and something required to graduate.
However, by including entrepreneurial thinking within engineering courses or taking a technology-based entrepreneurship course, students can begin to apply their skillset while thinking beyond the required and important learning that a textbook/lecture based engineering course can provide where answers/calculations are mostly either right or wrong. Some of these entrepreneurial skills that can be incorporated include:
• Assessing and managing risk
• Understanding the concept of pivoting
• Creating a customer-centric value proposition
• Understanding qualities of entrepreneurial leadership
• Developing cross-team effectiveness
• Resource management
• Strategy and vision
• Customer identification
Job satisfaction is contributed by being properly degreed and competent in meeting work expectations. But there is more to it than that. Engineers who are also creating value and using their specialized knowledge to advance society can gain an added sense of accomplishment. Possessing an entrepreneurial mindset along with a solid foundation in STEM courses creates an engineer who is capable of impacting the world.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.