Document Type


Publication Date

June 2009

Publication Title

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition

First Page


Last Page



Business | Engineering Education | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations


In this paper the authors share their experience of developing a case study for teaching engineering entrepreneurship and subsequently developing assessment and instructional material for the case. We also present the lessons learned from that experience. The authors developed the case study in question on the basis of a survey of engineering students’ perceptions of entrepreneurship6. Our survey showed that many students were interested in entrepreneurship, but were hesitant about starting their own business. We proposed two complementary approaches to learning, namely, case studies and active learning, to enhance the engineering students’ understanding of the entrepreneurial process and dispel some of their commonly held fears and myths about entrepreneurship. The authors wanted to develop a case study on a local, Silicon Valley-based company so as to make it more relevant to the students. Since a large proportion of SJSU engineering students are foreign-born, we wanted the case to focus on an ethnic minority immigrant entrepreneur. We used a stage-wise process in developing a case study on the founding of Serus, a global provider of technology and managed services for companies with distributed or outsourced manufacturing operations, based in a Silicon Valley, California. The stage-wise process included the following steps: 1. Desk research on the case study company and the industry 2. Face-to-face interviews with the both founders 3. Transcription of interviews 4. Compared findings from interviews with the a priori learning objectives of the case 5. Prepared first draft of case study and instructor’s notes, including a rubric to assess students’ responses 6. Presented the case at the Embryo session of the NACRA Conference 7. Prepared a list of follow-up questions to elicit further details on key issues, based on feedback received at the conference presentation 8. Contacted the entrepreneurs for further information 9. Modified the case based on information obtained from the entrepreneurs and from secondary research 10. Tested the case study in class and administered a survey to receive students’ feedback on the case 11. Further modified the case based on student feedback The case study was included in the syllabus for the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course during Fall 2007 and 2008. Engineering students take this Entrepreneurship course to obtain a minor in business or as a technical elective course. The students in the class were asked to answer four essay questions based on the case. An analytic rubric was designed to assess the responses of each of the essay questions. Implementation of the rubric along with the students’ feedback suggested the need for some changes in the case study as well as in the rubrics to better impart the learning points of the case study. This paper discusses how the case study and rubrics were modified to help us achieve the desired student learning objectives.


© 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. This article originally appeared in the proceedings of the 2009 ASEE Annual Conference, and can also be found online at this link.
Conference SessionEntrepreneurship Education: Cases and ModelsPaper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.