The Impact of Entrepreneurship on Engineering Curricula

Stephen J. Walsh, PE & Thomas K. Miller III,
North Carolina State University

The global economy is forcing significant change in the dynamics of industry and in educating our engineering workforce. This paper describes the new Engineering Entrepreneurs Program (EEP) curriculum at North Carolina State University. Under a grant from the NCIIA, the EEP is developing a curriculum that creates a full-immersion undergraduate educational environment for new product development. As such, it is designed to match the real-world entrepreneurial experience of new product and business development. It is composed of a sequence of three classes. At the end of this sequence the students will be able to create a project development plan, work as part of a team in roles of both employee and leader, effectively lead and manage people, understand the basics of business planning and the fundamentals of engineering, create a straightforward business plan, understand corporate formation and the importance of intellectual property, and understand and create fundamental financial projections.

Introduction

The change brought forth on industry and education by the new global economy provides significant new opportunities to those ready and willing to take advantage of them. Gone are the days when getting a job at large corporations, such as HP, IBM and AT&T meant a career secure through to retirement. What were once the high-paying, high-tech engineering jobs here in the United States are now easily outsourced to countries such as China and Russia. What Sir Francis Bacon stated in the 17th century is still apropos today: “Knowledge is power.” What we know now is that 1) outsourcing of traditional high-tech engineering jobs is here to stay, and 2) the Internet is slowly leveling the worldwide educational playing field, and the rate of leveling is steadily increasing. If students worldwide have access to the same information database we do, then what new knowledge must we obtain in order to compete both now and in the future? Among other things, United States graduating engineers need more than physics, math, statics, economics, etc., to sustain success in the global economy. They need to know the fundamentals of what makes a product and how they are designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold. In addition, they must know how to organize, work on and manage a team; be able to manage a project; and understand the fundamentals of business planning.

>>Read the peer-reviewed paper here (PDF)

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