DESIGNING CROSS-DISCIPLINARY PROGRAMMES TO DEVELOP THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS OF ENGINEERING DESIGN & BUSINESS STUDENTS
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Hamilton, Victoria Catherine; Brisco, Ross
Institution: University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom
Section: The effect that design and engineering have on global co-habitation
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.19
The current and future workforce need to be multi-skilled, adaptable, collaborative and creative in finding new solutions to problems. Importantly, they need a good understanding that there needs to be market desirability, technical feasibility and financial viability for the new solution to be a commercial success. Engineering students are highly skilled in technical feasibility, business students are highly skilled with commercial/financial viability and market desirability understanding. What if both of these groups were brought together? Could the skills for a more skilled future workforce be developed? Increase the quality of solutions being developed? Increase the numbers of student business ideas being taken beyond their educational studies? An 8-week program was run between (Engineering Design Department - Omitted for review) and (Business School - Omitted for review) at (University - Omitted for review), to explore collaboration opportunities between business students and engineering students with the aim of building skills of future workers, increase the quality of final solutions being developed and increase the numbers of student businesses ideas being taken beyond their educational studies. The program paired 6 groups of business students working on a range of product or service based business concepts with an engineering design student mentor. The role of the engineering design mentor was to provide advice and guidance on the technical feasibility and viability of the business students product design concepts. Further to this, the engineering design mentor was then tasked with assisting the business students in developing a minimum viable product (MVP) prototype, which would enable the business students to better communicate their concept. Feedback from both student mentors, and business students was positive. Business students reflected on the benefits in developing skills in what it may be like to work with a consultant, and became more aware of the implications of technical feasibility on their product offering and business model. They also gained a better appreciation of time and costs in developing the MVP. Student mentors saw benefits in developing skills in client negotiation, communication and in project scope setting, and were exposed to managing changing client requirements, as the business students refined their concepts in line with market research gathered, focussing on customer desirability. This project was financially backed by the (Business School - Omitted for review), and student mentors were paid an hourly rate to a maximum budget of 30 hours of support. Interestingly, feedback from student mentors suggested the experience in itself was invaluable, and in some cases, they went above and beyond the allocated budget of 30 hours as they saw the benefits to their own personal development. Of the six student teams supported, four went on to engage with external support services for developing their ideas further after they graduated. From this four, two registered businesses, and two continued to explore ideas at idea stage out with their university studies. The outcomes of this research are lessons learnt for future implementation of pilot projects of this nature.