Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Engineering education models have recently embraced the entrepreneurial mindset as a desired outcome of undergraduate engineering education. Interdisciplinary active learning strategies have been suggested as an effective pedagogy for engaging student engineers in undergraduate engineering education. Recent research suggests that active, social learning in context can lead to improvements in learner innovation, problem-solving, curiosity, retention and accessibility of knowledge, value-creation, and other desired learning outcomes. Much of the recent adoption of active and collaborative learning, self-directed learning, problem-based and project-based learning (PBL), peer to peer learning, and other similar learning strategies are aimed at developing innovative and entrepreneurial mindset skills, but they have been limited to Capstone Design courses. Our aim is to develop the entrepreneurial mindset much earlier in the student engineers’ undergraduate education.

The Iron Range Engineering program is entrepreneurial in nature, based on continuous improvement, self-directed learning, and reflective practice. Our student engineers learn in context, by applying technical engineering knowledge in project teams working on industry-sourced projects, each of the four semesters of their junior and senior years. In addition, freshman and sophomores enrolled in pre-engineering studies in a closely aligned community college are included in the culture, many activities, and teaching staff of the upper division program.

Drawing from the Kern Family Foundation’s Engineering Unleashed program and Innovating Curriculum with Entrepreneurial Mindset (ICE) workshops, faculty in the program were introduced to the entrepreneurial mindset in the summer of 2017. In the Fall, 2017 semester, they developed and piloted several entrepreneurial-minded learning (EML) modules across the curriculum of our program (approx. 100 students in lower and upper divisions), ranging from Statics in Sophomore year, to Entrepreneurship and Statistics in the Junior year, and Three-Phase and Signals and Systems for the Seniors, among others. Entrepreneurial Mindset was also reinforced in Design class and applied in project work.

This paper describes the experiences of faculty and students in the implementation of entrepreneurial mindset modules adopted in our program, as well as preliminary results of this rapid deployment in an interdisciplinary engineering program. We use a case study format to report auto-ethnographic stories from both faculty and student perspectives.

Early results are promising. After two semesters of simultaneous deployment of entrepreneurial mindset across the curriculum, faculty are engaged and working collaboratively to improve and extend this type of entrepreneurial learning even further into the program. The impact on ABET and KEEN outcomes are addressed. Student feedback is also positive. The pervasiveness of the application of entrepreneurial mindset is present in student reflections, project technical documents, design reviews, oral exams, and other student work. The entrepreneurial mindset has become part of the culture of our program in a short time, which we view as a positive outcome. The experiences of the participating faculty members are presented in the paper, as well as student reflections on the application of entrepreneurial mindset in their courses and design projects. Planned next steps are also addressed in the paper.


Integrated Engineering