The Effects of University Intellectual Property Policy on Engineering Capstone Design Courses and Entrepreneurism

Gary Brandenburger and Monami Chakrabarti, Washington University

Our study of the effects of intellectual property policy on senior engineering design courses now includes data from thirty instructors at twenty US universities. Widely divergent policies have both dramatic and subtle effects on the diversity of capstone programs offered today. Policies that both support and encourage industry involvement are associated with programs offering opportunities for learning entrepreneurism. Yet effective opportunities also occur at universities where IP policies may not support industry involvement or might discourage student inventing. Entrepreneurship education ultimately results from a conscious choice by the instructors. Strong commitment from administration, a supportive IP policy, collaboration with other schools and industry, local community involvement, and other factors play a critical role, but none is either necessary or sufficient. Instructors create the course environment through commitment, cleverness, resourcefulness, determination, and hard work.

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