Cultivating the entrepreneurial mindset through design: Insights from thematic analysis of first-year engineering students' reflections

Mark Vincent Huerta, Jeremi London, Amy Trowbridge, Marvyn Arévalo Avalos, Wen Huang, Ann McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Design is often specified as the characteristic that distinguishes engineers from professionals in other fields. This skill gives engineering graduates a competitive edge for pursuing diverse career paths and for responding to a range of social and technological needs throughout their careers. A component of this competitive edge includes affording students the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial mindset (EM). According to the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), the EM includes three dimensions: curiosity, creation of value, and connections. While entrepreneurship is frequently associated with commercialization and business, it is a critical but undervalued aspect of designing products and solutions in engineering. Over the past decade, various members of KEEN have embedded the EM in engineering curriculum offered by programs across the U.S. This is one of few studies that investigate the impact of doing so. Given the inherent characteristics of an EM and the engineering design process, this paper starts by describing the overlap between the two and reveals how they complement one another; then goes into a thematic analysis of the mindsets of twenty-seven students who had just completed a design activity accompanied by EM interventions in a first-year engineering course. The purpose of the study is to explore how their mindsets were revealed in their written reflections on: the attitudes and behaviors they perceive were necessary for successfully completing the design activity; the specified attitudes and behaviors they feel they possess; and which attitudes and behaviors they perceive are necessary for success after graduation. The results of this study reveal that students seamlessly weave together thoughts on actions performed during the design process with facets of an EM throughout their reflections. It includes evidence of how engineering design and EM can inform and influence one another while engineers engage in their work. The findings of this study help make the case for the need to co-facilitate the development of an EM as part of teaching engineering design in undergraduate engineering education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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