Examining the entrepreneurial mindset of senior chemical engineering students as a result of exposure to the epistemic game nephrotex

Kerry Michael Rogy, Cheryl A. Bodnar, Renee M. Clark

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Innovation and entrepreneurship are critical to the development and growth of society. Entrepreneurs use innovation to develop novel technologies, while innovation is often supported by the capital raised by entrepreneurs.1 Companies today are acutely aware of the benefits afforded by employees with entrepreneurial mindsets and have started screening for these characteristics as well as other 21st Century Skills, including problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. In a recent article in the TechCrunch, a leading technology media property stated, "In our research, we found that some employers are actually looking for students with entrepreneurship experience when hiring for entry-level positions... because students who have an entrepreneurial mindset are accountable for their own actions, aggressive and know how to execute. They also have the communication and sales skills that are necessary to be successful in business today."2 Recently, several groups have begun research into the characteristics that make up an entrepreneurial mindset. Characteristics including creativity, ability to learn from failure, tenacity, resourcefulness, and strong communication skills have all been documented to be part of this mindset. 3,4 While these skills include fundamentals taught within engineering programs, they also include skills such as learning from failure that are not often covered as part of the engineering curriculum. One way to teach skills related to the entrepreneurial mindset as well as an appreciation of the product design process is through epistemic games. Epistemic games are computer simulations that provide students the opportunity to think like a professional within a specific field, hence learning to identify with the key characteristics of that profession.5,6 In this research study, the epistemic game Nephrotex was utilized within a senior chemical engineering product design class to develop students' entrepreneurial mindsets. Our rationale for utilizing Nephrotex was for students to gain an understanding of working within a product design company and the competing opinions that occur as a result of individuals with different focused interests. Nephrotex also provided a scaffolding approach to the design process and did not have just one correct solution, which enabled students to learn from failure during their work. As part of the virtual internship, students were given a human resources intake and exit survey that captured their impressions of their involvement in and viewpoint of entrepreneurship. Analyses performed on the data obtained from these surveys showed some interesting trends. For instance, many of the senior chemical engineering students had little to no involvement with activities related to entrepreneurship leading up to their participation in Nephrotex. Other trends observed were that the chemical engineering student population as a whole was not particularly confident about its ability to start a business. However, this was shown to shift in the direction of increased confidence after being involved with Nephrotex. We also observed a change in the typology of reasons for wanting to start a business after participation in Nephrotex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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