Developing and Promoting Engineering Entrepreneurship in Morocco: A Three-part Investigation

Open Access
Author:
Adams, Samantha Pearl
Graduate Program:
Industrial Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
None
Committee Members:
  • Scarlett Rae Miller, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • engineering entrepreneurship
  • Morocco
  • motivation
  • self-efficacy
  • gender
  • women
Abstract:
Entrepreneurship is fundamental to the wellbeing of an economy. As such, researchers have long tried to understand the skillsets required to be successful in entrepreneurship in order to develop effective teaching strategies to produce more entrepreneurs and spawn economic development. Of particular interest has been developing entrepreneurship skillsets during engineering education because technology innovations and ventures represent high growth potential. While the United States has invested much effort into understanding and developing these skillsets in engineering education, many developing regions have yet to develop an understanding of motivations/ barriers for pursuing entrepreneurship, educational curriculum or programs that supports entrepreneurship skill development or provide a network to connect businesses, entrepreneurs and students together. These types of activities provide a means to effectively develop entrepreneurs and thus jumpstart economies, which is vital in regions like Morocco that suffer from soaring unemployment rates – 25% or higher among recent college graduates – which has led to civil tensions. As such, it is important to study ways to teach and encourage engineering entrepreneurship in Morocco and other developing regions. Therefore, the objectives of this thesis were to: 1. Investigate the effectiveness of a two-day day engineering entrepreneurship workshop in Morocco for igniting interest in entrepreneurship, 2. Examine the motivations and perceived barriers of Moroccan engineering students (male and female) for becoming entrepreneurs, 3. Explore strategies to encourage women to continue into engineering and science careers (both traditional and entrepreneurial), and 4. Promote engineering entrepreneurship in Morocco, and North Africa more broadly. A mixed methodology approach was used to answer these questions including qualitative analysis of focus groups and individual interviews, as well as quantitative analysis of survey data collected from a series of two-day engineering entrepreneurship stimulation workshops, held in two major Moroccan cities in 2013. In all, fifty-five Moroccan engineering students participated in this thesis research. The results of this thesis provide valuable insights into Moroccan engineering entrepreneurship, offering: 1. A model of short-term engineering entrepreneurship education that effectively increases self-efficacy and interest, and that provides an alternative to traditional university courses, 2. Understanding of motivation and perceived challenges of Moroccan engineers who intend to pursue entrepreneurship, which can be used to generate targeted training in the future, and, 3. A theoretical understanding of the challenges that Moroccan women face in science and engineering, both in education and in their career paths. This knowledge is used to generate recommendations and response strategies for increasing engineering entrepreneurship interest and involvement in Morocco that can be generalized with caution to elite engineering students in other North African countries.