A summer program focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset in the context of the NAE grand challenges for engineering

Jared Schoepf, Stephanie M. Gillespie, Amy Trowbridge, Alison Cook-Davis, Kristen Peña, Courtney Argenti, Daniel J. Laxman

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper describes the development and implementation of a three-week project-based entrepreneurial experience summer program focused on the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering through the theme of Sustainability. This program aimed to give students opportunities to (1) apply an entrepreneurial mindset, human centered design process and related tools to solve a problem for a client; (2) observe and/or experience Sustainability work in the private, public, and non-profit sectors; and (3) identify and explain the influence of societal, technological, economic, political, and environmental challenges and impacts related to Sustainability challenges and solutions. An additional aim of this program was to provide students in the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) at different institutions with an opportunity to meet and work with each other. Since this program was designed for GCSP students, it was intended to be an experience that students could utilize to fulfill requirements within the Viable Business/Entrepreneurship competency of the NAE GCSP. This program, created as part of the authors' work with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and hosted at Arizona State University (ASU), was designed to provide students with hands-on project-based experiences to learn and apply entrepreneurial tools without the pressures of starting their own business. The primary learning activity of the program was a three-week team project in which students worked to develop a solution to a real-world opportunity presented by a real client. Students applied the human centered design process to perform customer discovery, specifications development, brainstorming, and prototyping to develop effective solutions. Students also learned and applied business tools such as a business model canvas and elevator pitches to develop a business model and communicate the value of their solutions to the clients and other expert judges. A pre-post program evaluation survey created to assess the program outcomes was administered to all participants. Follow-up interviews were also conducted with several student participants to evaluate the impact of this program on students' actions after the program. Twenty-five students from thirteen different institutions participated in the first implementation of this program. Results obtained from the pre-post program evaluation survey indicate that the program was successful and met its intended learning outcomes. Findings from the interviews complemented the survey results, providing some indication of longer-term impacts of the program on participants. Participants described the connections and network of peers they gained, increased entrepreneurship and business-related knowledge and skills, and increased confidence and/or self-efficacy as key takeaways from the program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 22 2020
Event2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 22 2020Jun 26 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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