Integration of entrepreneurial mindset (EM) into the engineering curriculum has become an increasing area of focus over the last decade. As conceptualized by KEEN (Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network), EM has three tenets: Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value (the 3Cs). Curiosity is valued in students because it suggests that they are interested in being lifelong learners and extending their knowledge beyond what is covered in class. Additionally, we want our students to be able to make Connections, not only in their knowledge between what they have learned before and what they see before them, but also among people and resources. Finally, as part of embodying an EM, our students should be interested in Creating Value - ensuring that their designs and solutions will benefit stakeholders and society.
At Rowan University, a mid-size Mid-Atlantic public university, we set out to foster an Entrepreneurial Mindset in our first-year engineering students by modifying the Product Archaeology framework that was first developed by K. Lewis, et al. . In our implementation, we allowed student teams to choose from a bank of products and guided them through the four phases of product archaeology (preparation, excavation, evaluation, and explanation). For the evaluation phase, each team developed and executed three or more qualitative experiments for their product. At the conclusion of the project, students wrote a report that addressed the four phases of product archaeology, including the results of their quantitative experiments. Each report was graded using an internally designed rubric, some items of which we mapped to the 3Cs. For example, the rubric item related to their research question maps to Curiosity because developing an insightful research question requires that students be curious about their products.
This project was conducted in 17 sections of a multidisciplinary first-year engineering course, in which a total of 369 students were enrolled. Students completed the project in teams of three to five. The final reports and presentations of approximately 87 teams were analyzed using a standard rubric in which three items map to Curiosity and the other two items map to Connections and Creating Value, respectively.
The Product Archaeology project was intended to give students an experience in developing EM while also furthering the long-standing instructional objectives of the course, which include writing effective reports and analysis and collection of data. The results show, broadly, that most teams met the instructional objectives of the project.
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