Published in Journal of Engineering Education, Volume 90, Issue 4, January 1, 2002, pages 589-.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author John Chen was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
All engineering students at Rowan University are required to take the 8-semester Engineering Clinic sequence wherein multidisciplinary student teams engage in semester-long design projects. In addition to projects that are funded by local industry, faculty research grants or departmental budgets, a Venture Capital Fund has been created, which is specifically ear-marked for the development of original student inventions. Funding of up to $2500 per student team per semester is competitively awarded based on student-generated proposals to the Venture Capital Fund, which has been created through a series of grants from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). To qualify for funding, a multidisciplinary student team must propose, plan and implement an original, semester-long product development enterprise. To date, eleven projects have been funded through the Venture Capital Fund. This paper describes the results of several student entrepreneurial projects and compares the results of student surveys to assess the effectiveness of entrepreneurial projects in satisfying the technical objectives of the Engineering Clinic. The results suggest that students engaged in entrepreneurial projects devote more hours per week on their projects, have more “ownership” in their projects, and have a better understanding of the technical aspects and societal impact of their projects than their counterparts who are engaged in the more traditional engineering design projects.