Cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset in an undergraduate engineering statistics course using project-based learning

Cladio Vignola, Jeremi London, Richard Ayala, Wen Huang

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    10 Scopus citations


    There is resurging interest in the engineering education community in entrepreneurial activities and the development of an entrepreneurial mindset (EM). According to the KERN Entrepreneurship Education Network, facets of an EM include curiosity, an emphasis on creating value, and the ability to make connections. While extracurricular activities are the primary mechanism by which this topic has been introduced to engineering students in the past, it is beginning to show up in more formal ways. The literature includes examples many of how to promote entrepreneurship and an EM in traditional project-based courses engineering students take (senior design, etc.); but there are fewer examples and best practices for cultivating an EM in a fundamental engineering course-namely engineering statistics. Project-based learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach that involves active learning directed at investigating and solving complex, real-world problems- and it is an approach that is underutilized in math-intensive engineering courses. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how PBL can be integrated into an undergraduate engineering statistics course to promote an entrepreneurial mindset and investigate its impact on student learning. Six teams of engineering students in a 200-level engineering statistics courses responded to the challenge of presenting "A World Without Statistics". Teams were given liberty to choose any topic of interest and received funding to support their idea. The resulting projects creatively conveyed what the world would be like without statistics using a myriad of topics: sports, resilient infrastructure, online data, robotics, artificial intelligence, and manufacturing. Evidence suggest that curiosity, an emphasis on understanding the value of statistics, and the ability to make connections were critical to each team's success. This paper provides an overview of the assignment, and examples of students' work. Such insights have the potential to not only influence the way we cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in fundamental engineering courses, but also shed light on innovative ways to integrate other multi-faceted topics in engineering education.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationFIE 2017 - Frontiers in Education, Conference Proceedings
    PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
    Number of pages4
    ISBN (Electronic)9781509059195
    StatePublished - Dec 12 2017
    Event47th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2017 - Indianapolis, United States
    Duration: Oct 18 2017Oct 21 2017

    Publication series

    NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
    ISSN (Print)1539-4565


    Other47th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited States


    • Engineering statistics
    • Entrepreneurial mindset
    • Project-based learning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Software
    • Education
    • Computer Science Applications


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