Entrepreneurial Mindset

Overview and Introduction: The WHAT and WHO

The entrepreneurial mindset (EM) is a problem-solving approach that begins with curiosity about our changing world, connecting information from various resources to gain insight, and identifying unexpected opportunities to create value. Entrepreneurial-minded faculty and students synthesize information from multiple sources to develop a deep understanding of the problems they are aiming to solve as well as the end user involved. They anticipate societal and economic trends to identify opportunities to provide valuable solutions for the world. 

The 3Cs of EM are: curiosity, connections, and creating value.

Curiosity. For engineers to succeed in a world with rapidly changing needs and tools, they need a sense of curiosity. Faculty who instill a spirit of curiosity equip students to create extraordinary results. Engineers and scientists who are curious understand the broader world, look toward the future, and explore multiple perspectives. 

Connections. For engineers to succeed in a world in which data is exponentially increasing, they will need to broaden their thinking and see multiple viewpoints and solutions. Faculty can help students build a mindset that connects multiple spheres of context, systems, data, and even experiences. Engineers and scientists who make connections think outside the box, place old ideas in new contexts, and gain insights.

Creating Value. The increasing complexity of the challenges facing our world tells us that engineers must be outstanding problem solvers, designers, and value creators in a variety of settings. Value can be social, societal, economical, or personal. Engineers and scientists who focus on creating value in their solutions and design do so by seeking opportunities and understanding stakeholders. Engineers with an eye toward value creation learn from failure and habitually work to provide benefits while understanding the consequences of their actions.

EM can be applied across the spectrum of classes, activities, projects for all students, faculty, and staff.

Implementation and Timing: The WHEN, WHERE, and HOW


EM can be applied in a number of ways, from an individual activity for a student, to an overall learning objective for a course, to how a staff member directs a program. It can even be a strategy for how a faculty member approaches their own teaching. It can be applied at any time during the semester or as part of out-of-class experiences.

EM Activity examples

Many ASU faculty members have shared their entrepreneurially minded activities (both curricular and co-curricular) on Engineering Unleashed, a virtual platform for the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network. A few examples include:

EM Learning Objectives

      • Communicates innovations’ value to diverse audiences
      • Improves innovations based on data and user feedback and explores multiple solution paths
      • Connects content from multiple courses to solve a problem
      • Designs solutions with consideration for the needs and welfare of users and the planet
      • Contributes to a collaborative, inclusive and productive team environment

EM approach to teaching and faculty mentorship

Consider how you might apply an entrepreneurial mindset to your own teaching and approach to mentorship. You may share stories to make visible different pathways to impact and success or encourage collaboration and partnerships in your unit. Connect with mentors and/or mentees and contribute towards the research/knowledge base around entrepreneurially minded learning in engineering education.

Rationale and Research: The WHY

Engineers who not only utilize their technical engineering skills, but also employ an entrepreneurial mindset are well-rounded engineers prepared with the necessary knowledge and skillsets to be successful in industry. They understand the bigger picture, recognize opportunities and learn from mistakes to create value for themselves and others. Entrepreneurially minded engineers are powerful agents of positive change.

Additional Resources and References

This QRG is adapted from content from Engineering Unleashed and the ASU Kern Grant. Interested in learning more?  Here are additional resources on incorporating an entrepreneurial mindset in engineering education.