Engineering Students and Entrepreneurship Education: Involvement, Attitudes and Outcomes

Nathalie Duval-Couetil
Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: natduval@purdue.edu

Shiva Haghighi
School of Civil Engineering
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: shaghigh@purdue.edu

Teri Reed-Rhoads
School of Engineering Education
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: trhoads@purdue.edu

Abstract
Changes in the economy and workforce needs have led many engineering schools to consider offering entrepreneurship education to their students. Although entrepreneurship education is considered valuable to engineering students, little is known about the degree to which it plays a role in contemporary engineering students’ academic programs. The purpose of this study was to explore a broad array of attitudes toward and outcomes of, entrepreneurship education on engineering students in order to understand the characteristics of students participating in related courses and activities, the nature and extent of their involvement, entrepreneurship’s role in their career plans, and its impact on entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Survey data were collected from 501 senior-level engineering students at three institutions with established entrepreneurship programs. The study found that while two-thirds or more of engineering students intended to work for medium or large size companies after graduation, a similar number felt that entrepreneurship education could broaden their career prospects and choices. A majority of engineering students surveyed were interested in learning more about entrepreneurship and less than one third felt that entrepreneurship was being addressed within their engineering programs or by engineering faculty. Students who had taken one or more entrepreneurship courses showed significantly higher levels of entrepreneurial self-efficacy on a number of measures. The study found that students in certain engineering disciplines such as electrical and mechanical engineering participated in entrepreneurship education at higher rates than others. The results of this study provide valuable baseline data that can be useful for program development and evaluation.

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