Economics Thesis Based on Engineering Studies Courses

Engineering studies (EGRS) and economics double major and German minor Rabia Demirelli ’21 combined her personal interests, drive, and passion to develop an honors project in social entrepreneurship. She originally planned the project as a joint thesis, but after working closely with Engineering Studies Chair and Associate Professor Benjamin Cohen to conduct the research, she decided to make the EGRS-course-based project an economics-only thesis.

Her project looked at social entrepreneurship education (SEE), defined its goals, practices, and history, and explored connections between different academic disciplines and SEE focusing on entrepreneurship education and project-based learning offerings. She designed a survey and collected data to quantify students’ entrepreneurial and civic mindsets, comparing the effects of taking a social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship or a project based learning course. The results show that social entrepreneurship courses provide students with a platform to bring their civic interests to the academic classroom, or help students build knowledge, skills, and dispositions around civic issues.

In addition to the double major, Demirelli was a member of the inaugural cohort of student entrepreneurs involved in what is now the Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and co-founded the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization on campus. She studied a semester in Germany, and also participated in Lafayette’s Technology Clinic, a two-semester program in which teams of students from each academic division work together on imaginative solutions to real-world problems for clients. Her engineering studies courses included EGRS 498: Special Topics in Entrepreneurship-Rethinking Social Profit Organizations; EGRS 370: Build High-Tech Start-up; EGRS 451: Seminar in Engineering and Society; and EGRS 480: Sustainable Solutions.