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Chapter 15: Entrepreneurial and Other Career Motivations Among Engineering Students
15 Entrepreneurial and other career motivations among engineering students Nilusha De Alwis and Helen M.G. Watt* Introduction Innovation is the key to entrepreneurship and engineers are some of the most influential contributors to innovation. Therefore, engineers have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is an individual who creates or refines a business idea that would ultimately lead to the commercialisation of that product (Korunka et al., 2003). Likewise, an engineer creates a product that has not existed before, and is likely to improve the manner in which people live. For example, engineers in the past have not only become wealthy and successful entrepreneurs but have also created innovations which have changed civilisation. Technological achievements in electricity, transport and information processing have their roots in engineering (Arora and Faraone, 2003): Henry Ford changed America with the design and manufacturing of the Model T in 1907, the affordable family car that provided middle-class America with a sense of mobility that was never before dreamed of. His entrepreneurial mindset saw the creation of jobs and increase of the minimum wage which revolutionised society (Wicks, 2003). With increasing emphasis on entrepreneurial skills in current engineering education (Nichols and Armstrong, 2003), the opportunity for engineers to become successful engineering entrepreneurs is present now more than ever. This potential for engineers to become entrepreneurs is recognised in Holland’s occupational codes (Shears and Harvey-Beavis, 2001). Holland hypothesised six different groups or personality types into which individuals could be classified: ‘realistic’ (R), ‘investigative’ (I), ‘artistic’ (A)...
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