Measuring the Impact of Project-Based Design Engineering Courses on Entrepreneurial Interests and Intentions of Alumni

PI: Prof. Sheri Sheppard


For over half a century, ME310: Project-Based Engineering Design Innovation & Development has engaged Stanford graduate students in industry-sponsored projects where they experience various phases of integrated design thinking through engineering fabrication. In recent decades, ME310 projects have advanced an innovation focus both in process and outcome which has led to opportunities and pathways for entrepreneurship. The expansion of the ME310 format and pedagogical approach to courses and projects in other countries and contexts has resulted in many examples and anecdotal stories about successful student teams and how alumni have gone on to leverage their ME310 prototypes into commercial products. However, the impact of these intensive design experiences on course alumni has not been studied from the perspective of the intentions and interests in entrepreneurial outcomes. The objective of this proposed study is to design a survey instrument and a process for assessing the long term impact on alumni who were engaged in experiential, project-based design engineering courses as students. Stanford University’s ME310 will be used as a testbed for identifying insights that can be generalized to other engineering design experiences to address the broader benefits and human needs of students, faculty, institutions, and global partners.