About

Over the past three years, the Epicenter research team has been conducting a set of large, multi-method, national studies of entrepreneurship in engineering collectively known as the Fostering Innovative Generations Studies, or FIGS. As part of FIGS, the team is pursuing three major Research Questions (RQs). Each of these questions addresses an important gap in existing knowledge about entrepreneurship education for engineers:

  • an examination of how entrepreneurship programs for engineers work from the ground up (RQ1);
  • an exploration of how engineering students’ innovation and entrepreneurial interests evolve over time and are influenced by educational and workplace experiences (RQ2);
  • and a study of how engineering students and faculty perceive and learn entrepreneurial content in traditional technical environments (RQ3).

The FIGS team: (from left) Helen Chen, Shannon Gilmartin, George Toye, Sheri Sheppard, Emily Cao, Angela Harris, Emanuel Costache, Laurie Moore. Not pictured: Anna Breed, Carolyn Estrada, Michelle Grau, Qu Jin, Calvin Ling, Mark Schar, and Autumn Turpin; VentureWell collaborators Angela Shartrand and Ari Turrentine; and Senior Research Advisors Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Samantha Brunhaver, and Nathalie Duval-Couetil.

 

 

Here is a summary of our three core questions:
 

RESEARCH QUESTION 1 - PROGRAM MODELS
What are current models of educating engineers for entrepreneurship/entrepreneurial thinking?

In this research, the unit of analysis is the entrepreneurship program, and the focus is on programmatic contexts for entrepreneurship learning. This mixed-methods research builds on the work of Standish-Kuon and Rice (2002), Shartrand et al. (2010), Besterfield-Sacre et al. (2011), and Duval-Couetil, Shartrand, and Reed (forthcoming).

See here for a link to our recent presentation on RQ1 at the OPEN 2014 conference in San Jose, CA.

RESEARCH QUESTION 2 - STUDENTS' INTERESTS AND GOALS

What are undergraduate engineering students’ innovation and entrepreneurial interests, abilities, and achievements? How do these interests, abilities, and achievements change over time? Which educational and workplace environments/experiences influence the development of their innovation and entrepreneurial interests, abilities, and achievements?

Here the unit of analysis is the student, and the focus is on the development of student interests in innovation and entrepreneurship as measured by behaviors, attitudes, experiences, and career goals. This is conceived as a longitudinal, survey-based project that builds on the work of Damon and Lerner (2008), Eesley (2011), Duval-Couetil, Reed-Rhoads, and Haghighi (2012), among others. Our survey, the Engineering Majors Survey, was launched in Winter 2015 to engineering students at 27 institutions across the U.S.

We also have been working with colleagues at Tufts University and Stanford University to analyze and compare engineering and business students’ entrepreneurial intentions as part of their Young Entrepreneurs Study (YES). This has resulted in one award-winning conference paper (see Jin et al.) and two journal manuscripts under review/in progress.

Learn more about the Engineering Majors Survey »
 

RESEARCH QUESTION 3 - CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
How can fundamental engineering curricula be reframed to stimulate integrative thinking, especially entrepreneurial thinking?

In this research, the unit of analysis is the technical engineering classroom (inclusive of faculty, students, and curricula), and the focus is on the process of entrepreneurship learning in the context of a statics course. This work draws from Kolb’s learning theory and studies of scenario-based learning experiences. This research has resulted in an award-winning conference paper (see Schar et al.).

Initially tested at Stanford, the Scenario Based Learning techniques in this research are currently being rolled out and tested at University of Wisconsin (Madison) and UC-Merced.

RESEARCH COMMUNITY
Another top goal of the Epicenter Research Team has been to build and strengthen a community of entrepreneurship researchers, particularly in and around engineering. We have framed this as our fourth FIGS study; here, our research question is "What are the most effective strategies for fostering connections and community in the engineering entrepreneurship space?"

As part of our work, we have designed and hosted several events to bring together entrepreneurship researchers from a variety of backgrounds. We held three sessions at OPEN 2012, OPEN 2013, and OPEN 2014, respectively, to introduce attendees to the latest research and evaluation in the field.

In May 2012, we hosted an Epicenter Research Workshop at Stanford, where we brought together 27 scholars, leaders, and students in the fields of engineering and entrepreneurship education for an intensive, day-long workshop. In August 2014, we hosted the first Epicenter Research Summit, again at Stanford. The Summit included 70 researchers and practitioners from the U.S. and Europe.

 

Epicenter Research Summit

The first Epicenter Research Summit was held at Stanford University, August 4-5, 2014. View presentations, session summaries, posters, photos and more »


Publications

2015

Lintl, Florian M., Jin, Qu, Gilmartin, Shannon, Chen, Helen L., Schar, Mark, Sheppard, Sheri. "Starter or Joiner, Market or Socially-Oriented: Predicting Career Choice Among Undergraduate Engineering and Business Students." Read more and download the PDF

* Award: 2nd place, best research paper, ASEE Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division (ENT) 2015

Nilsen, Elizabeth, Matthew, Victoria, Shartrand, Angela, & Monroe-White, Thema. "Stimulating and Supporting Change in Entrepreneurship Education: Lessons from Institutions on the Front Lines." 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2015. Read more and download the PDF

Matthew, Victoria, Monroe-White, Thema, Turrentine, Ari, Shartrand, Angela, & Shashikant, Amit. "Integrating Entrepreneurship into Capstone Design: An Exploration of Faculty Perceptions and Practices." 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2015. Read more and download the PDF

Rodriguez, Janna, Chen, Helen L., Sheppard, Sheri, Leifer, Larry & Jin, Qu. "Exploring the Interest and Intention of Entrepreneurship in Engineering Alumni." 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2015. Read more and download the PDF

* Award: honorable mention, best research paper, ASEE Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division (ENT) 2015

Sheppard, Sheri, Gilmartin, Shannon, Chen, Helen L., Besterfield-Sacre, Mary E., Duval-Couetil, Nathalie, Shartrand, Angela, Moore, Laurie, Costache, Emanuel, Mihaela, Andreea, Jin, Qu, Ling, Calvin, Lintl, Florian Michael, Britos Cavagnaro, Leticia C., Fasihuddin, Humera, & Breed, Anna K. "Exploring What We Don't Know About Entrepreneurship Education for Engineers." 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2015. Read more and download the PDF

 

2014
 

Giersch, Sarah, & McMartin, Flora. "Promising Models and Practices to Support Change in Entrepreneurship Education." Epicenter Technical Brief 2. Stanford, CA and Hadley, MA: National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation. March 2014. Read more and download the PDF

Giersch, Sarah, McMartin, Flora, Nilsen, Elizabeth, Sheppard, Sheri, & Weilerstein, Phil. "Supporting Change in Entrepreneurship Education: Creating a Faculty Development Program Grounded in Results from a Literature Review." 2014 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2014. Read more and download the PDF

* Award: 1st place, best research paper, ASEE Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division (ENT) 2014 

Jin, Qu, Gilmartin, Shannon, Sheppard, Sheri, & Chen, Helen. "Comparing Engineering and Business Undergraduate Students’  Entrepreneurial Interests and Characteristics.2014 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2014. Read more and download the PDF

* Award: 2nd place, best research paper, ASEE Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division (ENT) 2014 

Rodriguez, Janna, Chen, Helen, Sheppard, Sheri, Jin, Qu, & Brunhaver, Samantha. "Exploring Entrepreneurial Characteristics and Experiences of Engineering Alumni.2014 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2014. Read more and download the PDF

Schar, Mark, Billington, Sarah, & Sheppard, Sheri. "Predicting Entrepreneurial Intent among Entry-Level Engineering Students." 2014 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2014. Read more and download the PDF


2013

Byers, Tom, et al. "Entrepreneurship: Its Role in Engineering Education." The Bridge, National Academy of Engineering, Volume 43, Issue 2, Summer 2013. Read the paper at nae.edu

Schar, Mark, et al. "Bending Moments to Business Models: Integrating an Entrepreneurship Case Study as Part of Core Mechanical Engineering Curriculum." 2013 ASEE Annual Conference, June 2013. Read the paper at asee.org

* Award: Best Teaching Strategies Paper, ASEE Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division (ENT) 2013

Get Involved

Contact Sheri Sheppard to find out how to collaborate with our research community.

Team

Sheri Sheppard
Principal Investigator, Epicenter Stanford University

Anna Breed
Stanford University

Emily Cao
Stanford University

Helen Chen
Stanford University

Emanuel Costache
SageFox Consulting

Carolyn Estrada
Apple

Shannon Gilmartin
Stanford University

Michelle Grau
Nueva School

Angela Harris
Stanford University

Qu Jin
Stanford University

Calvin Ling
Stanford University

Mark Schar
Stanford University

Angela Shartrand
VentureWell

George Toye
Stanford University

Autumn Turpin
Stanford University
 

Senior Research Advisors

Mary Besterfield-Sacre
University of Pittsburgh

Samantha Brunhaver
Arizona State University

Nathalie Duval-Couetil
Purdue University

Sarah Zappe
Pennsylvania State University


Resources

OPEN 2014 Presentation
Epicenter's research team presented a session at OPEN 2013: "Founding stories of engineering entrepreneurship programs: Research to inform practice"
View the presentation »

OPEN 2013 Presentation
Epicenter's research team presented a session at OPEN 2013: "Research- and evaluation-informed entrepreneurship education: What do the data tell us?"
View the presentation »

OPEN 2013 Downloads
The research team provided a collection of papers and resources at their session at OPEN 2013.
Download the papers & resources »

OPEN 2012 Presentation
The research team presented a session at OPEN 2012: "Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning--Shaking up Research and Assessment"
View the presentation »

8081 page views