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Understanding how tertiary-level academic institutions create entrepreneurial engineers

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Fraser, NKO ORCID: 0000-0002-6858-8379 2017 , 'Understanding how tertiary-level academic institutions create entrepreneurial engineers', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

World economies are demanding a new type of engineer – an Entrepreneurial Engineer – who possesses a multidisciplinary set of technical and entrepreneurial competencies. These new engineers are essential to the fostering of entrepreneurship, innovation, and technological enhancement within an economy. Given the importance of having entrepreneurial engineers, it is necessary for tertiary-level academic institutions to prepare their engineering students to undertake these roles. This is being done by offering entrepreneurship education to engineering students.
Despite the recognition of the importance of having and creating Entrepreneurial Engineers, very little research has examined how tertiary-level academic institutions educate engineering students about entrepreneurship. The only exception was the Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) study, which examined the approaches taken by six academic institutions in the United States to educate engineering undergraduates about entrepreneurship. The findings from this study resulted in the emergence of a typology which presented three models to which entrepreneurship initiatives could be categorised into, and ultimately the three models that academic institutions could follow to educate their engineering students about entrepreneurship.
However, since the Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) study was conducted, a number of developments in this area have occurred; including, for example, an evolution in entrepreneurship education approaches, a greater role played by external stakeholders and networks in the combination of engineering and entrepreneurship, and a greater presence of “university-wide” entrepreneurship education programmes. These developments necessitated a more contemporary investigation of the approaches used to educate engineering students about entrepreneurship in order to understand how educational institutions have responded to the changes that have occurred.
The overall aim of this study was to investigate how tertiary-level academic institutions educate engineering students about entrepreneurship. The typology developed by Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) was used as the theoretical framework to understand and categorise the entrepreneurship initiatives analysed. For this study, all entrepreneurship education initiatives for engineering undergraduates offered at academic institutions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States were examined. The decision to investigate entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering students outside the United States was made because these countries are all developed economies which rely heavily on engineering, and no research similar to that of Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) had previously been conducted. The underlying objective was to determine whether the Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) typology was still representative of present-day entrepreneurship initiatives used to educate engineering undergraduates, or if the typology had to be updated to reflect the changes that have occurred in this area.
This study used a mixed methods research methodology, with a multiphase sequential research design divided into three phases. Phase One was qualitative, with a desktop review performed on institution webpage descriptions of entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering undergraduates at 414 academic institutions in the United States. These initiatives were categorised according to the Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) typology and changes were made where applicable. Phase Two was also qualitative, with a desktop review performed on institution webpage descriptions of entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering undergraduates at 13 institutions in Australia, 24 institutions in Canada, five institutions in New Zealand, and 36 institutions in the United Kingdom. These initiatives were categorised according to the typology identified during Phase One. Phase Three was quantitative, with data collected via an online questionnaire sent to engineering school administrators from 600 academic institutions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Completed surveys were received from 126 of the 600 institutions, which represented a 21% response rate.
The findings showed that the Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002) typology had to be updated and expanded to reflect present-day entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering students, proving that the typology was a valuable foundation for this research. Furthermore, the findings showed that today, a total of five models were used to categorise entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering undergraduates, and that academic institutions in the five countries use one (or in some cases more) of the five models to educate their engineering undergraduates about entrepreneurship. As a result, this thesis presents a new typology – the Entrepreneurial Engineering Education (EEE) typology – that is used to categorise present-day entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering students, in addition to collective information regarding entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering students.
This research and its findings have implications for both theory and practice. From a theoretical perspective, the research contributes to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of how academic institutions use entrepreneurship to create Entrepreneurial Engineers, and presents the typology that describes how academic institutions are presently educating engineering students to be entrepreneurial. Furthermore, the research provides insight into the similarities and distinct differences that existed among the models of this typology. From a practical perspective, the findings show the models that academic institutions can use to create entrepreneurship initiatives for engineering students, and the models that represent the initiatives that are presently offered for engineering students. Furthermore, the findings provide insight into the models that are commonly used in specific countries.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Fraser, NKO
Keywords: entrepreneurship education; entrepreneurial engineering; Entrepreneurial Engineering Education (EEE) Typology; entrepreneurial engineering education; entrepreneurial engineer
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Copyright 2017 the author

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