Workshop: Building a Framework to Understand the Impact of Entrepreneurship Support Programs on the Formation of Engineers

Project: Research project

Project Details


For several decades, the development of the professional skill set, comprising proficiency in communication, business, creativity, leadership, and other attributes, has been emphasized to be nearly or equally as important as the acquisition of technical skills by engineering students. While no one doubts the importance of students’ need to acquire technical engineering knowledge, professional skills including communication, teamwork, ethical understanding, and considerations of economic and societal factors are critically important for the professional formation of engineers. Entrepreneurial Support Programs [ESPs] are one mechanism by which students can gain these professional skills, both for students who aspire to be entrepreneurs as well as those who plan to work in industry settings. In fact, many ESPs across the country focus on the acquisition of skills or attributes comprising the professional skill set that engineering students can use in varied career settings, whether that includes venture creation, intrapreneurship, or in a leadership role in industry or even academia. Over the past several decades, the number of entrepreneurship-focused courses, programs, and cocurricular and other training opportunities embedded into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs across the country has increased dramatically. However, the impact of ESPs on students’ professional formation and the acquisition of different attributes—such as creativity, risk taking, empathy, and curiosity is largely unknown. Though the social sciences have a strong and robust history of studying many of the attributes typically associated with entrepreneurship, there is little connection between this foundational research and the work of ESPs. This proposal seeks to build a framework that serves as a liaison between social science research and practitioners, who typically do not have the bandwidth or background to engage in this research. The goal of this proposed project is to bridge the gap between social scientists and engineering entrepreneurship practitioners by creating a research-based framework to guide the development, instruction, and assessment of ESPs. This project will initiate this process with a Delphi study and a set of three virtual workshops with interdisciplinary experts. The outcome will be an initial framework that identifies a clear set of antecedents, characteristics of the ESP context, and entrepreneurship-related outcomes, including career pathways, knowledge of entrepreneurship, and attributes that ESPs aim to influence, along with a set of white papers that describe a) existing measurement approaches and tools with reliability and validity evidence, and b) evidence-based instructional strategies that will impact these entrepreneurship-related student attributes.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date4/1/228/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $99,946.00


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