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Engineering Leadership > Engineering Leadership

Engineering Leadership

Using a mixed methods approach, the goals of this research are to (1) to identify, within academia and industry, observable outcomes that Purdue’s Engineer of 2020 should demonstrate for three targeted attributes (“leadership,” “recognize and manage change,” and “synthesize engineering, business, and social perspectives”); and (2) to design, develop, and validate an assessment instrument of the identified outcomes. The results of this study will serve as the basis for the development of seminars and workshops, the inclusion of undergraduates in summer and academic-year research projects, and the creation of a new course aligned with the attributes targeted within this study.

This research engages a variety of stakeholders (i.e., engineers in industry, engineering faculty, engineers in academia; and undergraduate students) in an empirical study of undergraduate engineering education. The proposed tool may be used to collect data which might be parsed by a variety of variables (e.g., gender, ethnicity) in an effort to note the similarities and differences in the current states of Purdue’s Engineer of 2020 attributes. Although several of the Purdue 2020 attributes have been explored via existing centers and initiatives, this research is innovation because of its exploration of leadership and change– topics that are not explicitly taught or researched at the undergraduate level within the College of Engineering.

  1. What are important attributes that contribute to effective and ineffective leadership within non-academic environments?
  2. What are ways to incorporate leadership concepts in traditional engineering environments and within engineering curricula via case studies?
  3. How do engineering students and faculty view themselves within the context of leadership?
  4. How are engineering faculty incorporating engineering leadership concepts (via authentic engineering cases) in traditional engineering courses?
  • Identified leadership, recognizing and managing change, and synthesizing engineering, business, and social perspectives attributes important for engineering undergraduates to posses
  • Developed a self-assessment tool that measures engineering students’ leadership, change, and synthesis abilities
  • Created and presented workshops to engineering faculty on ways to engage students in professional skills, including engineering leadership
Members of the Pedagogical Evaluation Laboratory developed a survey informed from interviews with twenty-three engineering professionals. The survey was framed around the outcomes of Purdue’s Engineer of 2020 for three targeted attributes, (1) leadership, (2) ability to recognize and manage change, and (3) ability to synthesize engineering, business, and social perspectives. The results of this study have led to design, development, and validation of an instrument for the aforementioned outcomes and serves as the basis for seminars and workshops for engineering students at Purdue University and other higher education institutions.
Cox, M. F., Cekic, O., & Adams, S. G. (2010). Developing leadership skills of undergraduate engineering students: Perspectives from engineering faculty. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 11(3-4), 25-36.

Cox, M. F., Cekic, O., Ahn, B., & Zhu, J. (2012). Engineering professionals’ expectations of undergraduate engineering students. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 12(2), 60-70.

Osagiede, A., Cox, M. F., & Ahn, B. (2013, June). A university’s engineering leadership program: Addressing the shortfall on engineering leadership education. 120th American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.