Epicenter Research Summit

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Seventy faculty, researchers and students gathered at Stanford University, August 4-5, 2014, for the Epicenter Research Summit to discuss research on entrepreneurship, innovation and engineering education. The goal of the event, hosted by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), was to connect participants working on similar questions, forge new collaborations, share methodologies and findings, and inspire new questions and areas of research.


Attendees from 29 institutions and organizations came from fields ranging from engineering to psychology to design. The gathering attracted faculty members and administrators, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and research and evaluation specialists from the U.S. and Europe. Attendees included students in Epicenter's University Innovation Fellows program and faculty in Epicenter's Pathways to Innovation Program.

Session Topics

Session topics at the summit included students’ entrepreneurial development, research on programs and curricular approaches, and the landscape of the field. Participants took part in workshops to address how students could help come up with new research ideas and collaborated in groups to form brand new research questions.


Several big questions and takeaways emerged. One realization was the importance of students in the research process. More than just subjects of research, students’ unique perspectives and enthusiasm make valuable collaborators in the process. Other themes and questions that participants discussed were how to define and evaluate a student’s entrepreneurial mindset, the connections between (and definitions of) entrepreneurship and innovation, and the barriers students face when trying to launch companies while still in school.

The value of bringing this community together is immense and widespread. The impact is not only on engineering education, but higher education as a whole. Participants expressed interest in continuing to meet as a community, defining research needs, and reaching out to other scholars and practitioners who would like to share insights and collaborate.


The organizers of the event were Dr. Sheri Sheppard, Epicenter’s Co-Principal Investigator and leader of the research team; and Dr. Helen L. Chen and Dr. Shannon Gilmartin, both Epicenter Research Scientists. Summit co-hosts were Professor Mary Besterfield-Sacre of the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Nathalie Duval-Couetil of Purdue University, Professor Bill Damon of Stanford University, and Dr. Anne Colby of Stanford University.

Additional Information

Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford and VentureWell (grant number 1125457).

View Summit materials including session notes, posters, recommended resources and the Summit evaluation report: http://epicenter.stanford.edu/page/epicenter-research-summit-2014

Read more about the event and watch a video featuring the members of the research community: http://epicenter.stanford.edu/story/big-questions-epicenter-research-summit-2014

Learn more about the Epicenter research initiative: http://epicenter.stanford.edu/page/research

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