Educating the entrepreneurial engineer

Towards a 4TU Special Interest Group

SHORT DESCRIPTION

To deal with complex societal and organizational challenges, companies hiring engineers increasingly look for people trained to innovate, who can, in addition to contributing to the technological feasibility, contribute to the desirability (society level), viability (business level) and organizability (human level) of new technological ideas. Beyond the often-praised qualities of Delft engineers, future engineers will need additional competences, here termed as entrepreneurial engineering competences. Such competences, consisting of relevant sets of knowledge, capabilities and attitudes, are to a limited extent addressed within current engineering curricula, if at all. Currently, the primary focus in Engineering Education is on the technological dimension as a stand-alone object and without its interconnections to the other dimensions mentioned above. To address this gap the project aims to develop education materials, modules and courses on the topic of entrepreneurial engineering. This will be done through co-creation within the 4TU-CEE network and by application of the teach-the-teachers principle.

All MSc-students from the 4TU’s form the target group for the educational modules envisioned which will be brought to them by their own teachers and within already existing courses. The core idea is, that we predominantly want to make use of existing courses in which the newly developed modules will be embedded. The teachers trained by the expert teachers in the knowledge base on entrepreneurial engineering will tailor and contextualize this knowledge to the content of their course. These teachers will be coached in this contextualizing process including the choice for the proper didactics of their module in entrepreneurial engineering.

For this purpose, a community will be set up across the 4TU. In collaboration open online materials will be developed and piloted in multiple faculties. Teachers will be trained how to use materials in their own courses as well as how to develop new course material. Teachers apply the approach to their domains to make students sensitive and knowledgeable to the ambiguous nature of innovating technology. Overall aim is to support both teachers and students to build a deep understanding of how to create new technologies by entrepreneurial behaviour

OBJECTIVE

The project is initiated at TU Delft and is presently rolled out over the other technical universities of the 4TU network. Within each institution we aim to build a similar structure: Special Interest Groups (SIG) consisting of teachers interested to take up the challenge of embedding modules on entrepreneurial engineering within their own existing courses. Overarching a project team at 4TU level will initially co-create a first conceptual framework representing the entrepreneurial side of technological innovation. The framework will serve as reference for developing the educational modules and while doing so will be improved over time.

Starting from the fact that all what is taught at our technical universities is the result of a technological innovation process itself, it is the idea to develop so-called Technological innovation Journeys, or Tijo’s, along the four dimensions mentioned earlier. The engineering theories taught at our universities don’t consist of just hypothetical wisdom but has over time and due to many iterations in labs and business become engrained within the daily engineering operations of technology-based companies.

The journey travelled from its inception, in university or company labs, till it became a fully validated and integrated body of technological, operational and financial knowledge in use by industrial actors and accepted by societal actors, is what covers such a Tijo. These Tijo’s will serve as cases within the envisioned educational modules, most likely along the structures of case-based learning.  

Most importantly, this project aims to focus on entrepreneurial behaviour within the confines of existing organizations which is based on the observation that by far the majority (> 95%) of engineers work for existing organizations. Meaning, it is just a small minority that start their own company; the entrepreneurs.

Unique elements 

To summarize:

  • 4TU initiative to bring the basics of entrepreneurial engineering to all MSc-student
  • Co-develop uniform theoretical framework representing technological innovation & entrepreneurial engineering
  • Create a strong entrepreneurial engineering learning path, which can be translated into several educational approaches to be used by all technical universities
  •  Teach-the-teachers and coach them in developing their own modules to be embedded in their own courses
  • Potentially interesting to include educational programs beyond the 4TU

Interested?  

For this initiative we would like to interact with Scientific staff across al 4TU who wants to become engaged in teaching subjects related to technological innovation and entrepreneurial behaviour.  It is our ambition to build a community of practice in which co-creation of the theoretical framework, shared insights and shared practices become the norm. If you are interested, please contact Frido Smulders.

Contact information

Frido Smulders                                            f.e.h.m.smulders@tudelft.nl