Entrepreneurial Mindset

Why the engineer of today needs it

Introducing the Entrepreneurial Mindset

An entrepreneurial mindset (EM) is a collection of mental habits that influence the way you think about the world and act upon what you see. 

EM empowers you to question, adapt, and make positive change, leading you to:

  • Recognize and identify opportunities
  • Focus on their impact
  • Create value in any context 

While these abilities are important in many different fields, our focus is on engineers. The entrepreneurial mindset amplifies the work engineers already do, equipping them to solve societal problems and create an environment for human flourishing.

You can explore a collection of academic literature connected to this field here.

Video Tutorials

Unpack mindset and design with EM 90, EM 101, and EM 102!

The Introduction to Entrepreneurial Mindset & the 3Cs is a free, on-demand course that provides a roadmap to mindset. Learn at your own pace:

  • In EM 90, learn the basics of entrepreneurial mindset and why this mission is so important.
  • In EM 101, learn how this concept is relevant to us as educators, and how we can design educational interventions to impact students.
  • In EM 102, explore the pedagogy called Entrepreneurially Minded Learning (EML) and its focus on opportunity and impact.
EM Video Tutorials

Introduction to EM & the 3Cs

Curiosity, Connections, Creating Value: The 3Cs

The entrepreneurial mindset consists of three key elements: Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value—the 3Cs. This emergent understanding came from years of work with KEEN faculty, students, and industry. 

Entrepreneurially minded individuals:

  • Have a constant curiosity about our changing world and employ a contrarian view of accepted solutions.
  • Habitually connect information from many sources to gain insight and manage risk.
  • Create value for others from unexpected opportunities as well as persist through, and learn from, failure.

Person holding globe


Understand the broader world. Look toward the future. Explore multiple perspectives.

Today’s solutions are often obsolete tomorrow. Students must be empowered to investigate a rapidly changing world with an insatiable curiosity.


Think outside the box. Place old ideas in new contexts. Gain insights.

Discoveries alone are not enough. Students must habitually pursue knowledge and integrate it with their own discoveries to reveal innovative solutions.
Creating Value

Creating Value

Seek opportunities. Understand stakeholders. Have a positive impact.

Innovative solutions are most meaningful when they create extraordinary value for others. Students must be champions of value creation.

Scholarship of Entrepreneurial Mindset

Pursuing scholarship around entrepreneurial mindset can bring significant benefits to your career and institution. 

Explore the collection of academic literature.

The Framework: Your Guide to Mindset and Skillset Outcomes

The Framework is an adaptable guide used by thousands of faculty to create educational materials and teaching concepts that equip engineering students with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Learn more and get a free Framework download.

Get Mindset Activities For Class

Insert entrepreneurial mindset into your existing classes with these activities and projects shared by community members:

Starter Pack of Entrepreneurial Mindset

Starter Pack

Activities and techniques

Get adaptable resources that canvass the 3Cs: Curiosity, Connections, Creating Value, and Opportunity Recognition.
Innovation Challenges


Challenging workouts for teams

Promote the entrepreneurial mindset through the innovation process in a multidisciplinary, team-based, creative environment.
Product Archaeology

Go On a Dig

Product Archaelogy

Set first year students to exploring global, economic, societal, & environmental impacts of consumer products.

How Can Institutions Incorporate Entrepreneurial Engineering?

Entrepreneurially-minded engineers recognize problems as opportunities, assess the potential impact of solutions, and use their skills to create value for others. 

An entrepreneurial mindset can be related to entrepreneurship, but is not exclusive to new ventures. Equally, institutions of higher learning are frequently hubs of innovation and value creation. The entrepreneurial engineering approach allows students to co-create with faculty members. Faculty in turn re-imagine courses, labs, and activities – and find greater fulfillment in the process. 

The entrepreneurial mindset allows institutions to be faithful to their original charter while preparing graduates for an ever-changing world. Entrepreneurially minded learning does not sacrifice technical knowledge. Instead, it can be coupled with other pedagogical approaches to inspire shifts in mindset.

Entrepreneurial engineering emphasizes discovery, opportunity identification, and value creation. Graduates benefit from this approach. They are able to evaluate market needs, societal trends, and technical feasibility.

Risk and uncertainty are also part of entrepreneurial thinking. Your students will face personal risks, market risks, opportunity costs, demands from stakeholders; the list goes on. An entrepreneurial mindset can help them manage these risks and be comfortable with uncertainty.

Andrew Maynard, Director for the Risk Innovation Lab in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, examines the risks and benefits of emerging technologies. While such technologies could improve our lives, their very strangeness can also cause fear. 

What Do Companies Want From Engineers?

Companies who hire your graduates want them to be equipped with a broad set of skills—professional skills along with technical acumen. 

Teaching the entrepreneurial mindset will help your students work better within teams, communicate more effectively, listen to stakeholders, ask the right questions, and understand the needs of others.  

Entrepreneurially minded learning helps students adapt and engage in a changing world of work. It gives them the “Why” to enhance the “How” in what they do. 

The Engineering Unleashed community is invested in more than just teaching for what industry wants. The characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset provide a deeper sense of meaning for your students. They won’t just deliver a product. They’ll create value.

Industry Validation

Learn why industry thinks entrepreneurial mindset is critical for engineers.

The Bottom Line: Why Entrepreneurial Mindset Matters

Think about a recent technical achievement. An engineer almost certainly contributed to it! 

Engineers work with a wide range of businesses to deliver solutions at scale. They collaborate with chemists, doctors, and elected officials. They have the potential to make a positive impact on society and the world around them. 

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