Entrepreneurial Mindset Strategy: Create Value

Overview and Introduction: The WHAT and WHO

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. A key component of the entrepreneurial mindset (EM) is creating value. The entrepreneurial mindset 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 [1].

Engineers and scientists who focus on creating value in their solutions and designs and adopt this mindset do so by seeking opportunities and understanding stakeholders (e.g., clients, partners, customers). Engineering students with an eye toward value creation learn from failure and habitually work to provide benefits while understanding the consequences of their actions [2].

Incorporating value creation can benefit both students and faculty across all levels and types of engineering classes. By creating opportunities for students to work on activities that create value, as well as understanding and thinking critically about value that can be created, faculty can help students develop skills that will help them be successful in industry, their future work as engineers, and become powerful agents of societal good [3].

Implementation and Timing: The WHEN, WHERE, and HOW

Encouraging students to create value can be done throughout a project or with a single assignment. Creating value and the entrepreneurial mindset can be applied in a wide range of approaches, including simply introducing a topic to more advanced technical skill development [4]. 

Creating value is a relative concept, but it means that students are considering the social, societal, personal (and economic) value that is created in their ideas, solutions, and designs. This kind of customer or user focus, much like human-centered design, has been shown to ‘lead to more effective designs as well as providing students with an opportunity to learn about the community and the context’ [5, p. 156].

Even first-year engineering courses can have moderate coverage of potential value evaluation for a project [4]. Embedding creating value in a class can be done at any time of the semester and across modalities, including in-person and online courses. It can even be done with out-of-class learning opportunities and experiences. A few ideas to implement are below.

Ideas for Implementation

      • Think critically about societal impact. Faculty can encourage students to think critically about the societal impact of their designs by leading class discussions. This should also be an opportunity to challenge their assumptions and think creatively. Students can consider questions such as [2]:
        • Do my solutions solve real problems in society?
        • Are there alternate areas your solution may be helpful? Have you missed an opportunity?
        • What solutions would be most valuable? Valuable in what ways (societal, economic, other)? For whom and how does my solution satisfy a long-term need?
        • What can I learn from mistakes? What should I have done and what will I do in the future to continue to create the most value?
      • Use real-world examples. Show students examples of projects that have successfully created value for their customers, stakeholders, or society. This will help students understand the practical applications of creating value in their field. Using real-world examples can be implemented in lectures, discussions, assignments, or additional learning materials provided (e.g., articles, case studies).
      • Integrate ethical considerations into assignments. This could include asking students to reflect on ethical implications, including the environmental, social, safety, or privacy considerations of their design. A few examples:
        • Ethics and individual project report by Ryan Meuth (Dropbox): In this report, students reflect on their project contributions and describe the value personally created for their customer, in economic, social and/or environmental context. An ethics slide deck is also included.
        • PESTLE analysis. This considers many non-engineering factors that can impact the success of a product or solution for implementation. PESTLE is a framework to consider the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors or data in their design.
      • Integrate creating value in projects. Provide students with the opportunity to communicate how their design or project creates value. This can be through reflection assignments, class presentations, or discussions with group members. A few examples:
        • 200-level course assignment about Capstone Design Project by Michael Goryll (Dropbox): This assignment allows students to address why the project is needed, state a clear and concise mapping between design choices and proposed values, and make changes based on stakeholder feedback.
        • Value Propositions and Business Model Canvas. While business is in the title, the Business Model Canvas (BMC) applies to any social or nonprofit ideas, as well. It is a tool to help engineers consider 9 building blocks of feasibility, desirability, and viability. One building block is Value Proposition that considers a specific customer segment and the kinds of value that an engineering solution creates. Check out the “How does my idea fit into a business model canvas?” resources from J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute.
      • Encourage experiential experiences. There are a number of co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities for Fulton students to get hands-on, real-world experiences designing engineering solutions that create value. Faculty can help students navigate the best Fulton Difference Program that is right for them depending on the students’ academic level, time commitments, and modality preferences. Students can engage in programs that range from semester-long research opportunities to weekend design experiences. Experiential experiences provide engineering students the opportunity to apply theories, develop technical skillsets, design for a customer, and gain exposure to different disciplines.

Rationale and Research: The WHY

‘Mastery of a skill comes mainly from doing things, noticing and reflecting on the results, and possibly getting feedback from someone else’ [6, p. 3]. By introducing creating value in learning opportunities for our engineering students, faculty are able to encourage this mastery of skill. Additionally, value creation provides opportunities for students to practice and develop non-technical skill sets, including problem-solving, teamwork, needs and analysis, and communication skills. Entrepreneurship programs overall have been found to improve students’ confidence and their job readiness [7]. When students are able to experiment, explore, and experience a safe space for disappointment or failure, then they are able to develop their entrepreneurial capabilities [8]. Students who are provided opportunities early on in their engineering education to practice their entrepreneurial skill sets have significantly higher perceptions of engineering professions and engineering entrepreneurship skills needed to be successful [9]. Working on projects that create value, as well as understanding and thinking critically about value that can be created, is a skill that will help students be successful in future work.

Additional Resources and References

See below for additional resources to integrate creating value in course content, along with references from the above sections.


Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) Cards

Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) Cards

Note: The majority of KEEN cards require the user to be logged in to view on the Engineering Unleashed platform. It is free to create an account – faculty can then connect with other ASU faculty or faculty across the network once signed up.


[1] ASU KEEN. “ASU KEEN – Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network.” Arizona State University. [Online]. Available: https://entrepreneurship.engineering.asu.edu/asu-keen/ 

[2] Engineering Unleashed. “Project-Based Learning | Engineering Unleashed.” [Online]. Available: https://engineeringunleashed.com/card/670 

[3] Engineering Unleashed. “About Engineering Unleashed,” [Online]. Available: https://engineeringunleashed.com/about

[4] H. Zhu, A. Baumann, and G. Lichtenstein, “Assessment of Entrepreneurial Mindset Coverage in an Online First Year Design Course,” in 2019 FYEE Conference, Jul. 2019. [Online]. Available: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8857641 

[5] T. H. Colledge, “Convergence: Philosophies and Pedagogy for Developing the Next Generation of Humanitarian Engineers and Social Entrepreneurs,” International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering: Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship, Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY, 2012.

[6] R. M. Felder and R. Brent, “Teaching and learning STEM: A practical guide,” John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.

[7] B. C. Martin, J. J. McNally and M. J. Kay, “Examining the formation of human capital in entrepreneurship: A meta-analysis of entrepreneurship education outcomes,” Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 211-224, 2013. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2012.03.002.

[8]Jones, Penaluna, K., & Penaluna, A. “Value creation in entrepreneurial education: towards a unified approach.” Education & Training (London), vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 101-113, 2021. DOI: 10.1108/ET-06-2020-0165.

[9] S. Dabbagh and D. A. Menascé, “Student Perceptions of Engineering Entrepreneurship: An Exploratory Study,” Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 95, no. 2, pp. 153-164, 2006. DOI: 10.1002/j.2168-9830.2006.tb00886.x.