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Publication Date

June 2006

Publication Title

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Conference

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Business | Engineering Education | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations


There is a growing consensus about the need for engineers and scientists to have entrepreneurial skills to be successful in their careers. However, there is a continued debate as to how best to impart these skills at the undergraduate level. It is possible to identify two routes to accomplish this objective. One route is to offer courses in engineering entrepreneurship and the other is to encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities that help to foster entrepreneurial skills. The most common approach adopted by a growing number of universities is to offer courses in entrepreneurship to engineering students. A more unconventional approach that has been used at San Jose State University (SJSU) is to invite students to participate in a Neat Ideas Fair, a campus-wide forum to celebrate creativity and innovation. This fair gives the students an opportunity to display the creative solutions developed by them as part of their engineering course projects. While this event generates enthusiasm and excitement among students and has led to the further development and commercialization of ideas in a few cases, it has two drawbacks. First, it attracts only those students who already have good ideas to display and secondly, it does not give students the fundamentals of entrepreneurship in a systematic way. Despite the fact that SJSU is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, the engineering students at SJSU are not adequately exposed to entrepreneurship as revealed by a preliminary survey by the authors. To bridge this gap, we plan to develop teaching material for an engineering entrepreneurship course at the undergraduate level supported by a CCLI grant from the National Science Foundation. The objective of the present paper is to describe a process of selecting appropriate course material for teaching engineering entrepreneurship in order to dispel some of the common myths about entrepreneurship amongst undergraduates at SJSU. This paper also discusses the value and impact of the two approaches identified above in educating and exposing engineering students to entrepreneurship.


© 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. This article originally appeared in the proceedings of the 2006 ASEE Annual Conference, and can also be found online at this link.
Conference SessionApproaches to Teaching EntrepreneurshipPaper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.