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Board 92 : What is Engineering Leadership? A Proposed Definition

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Poster Session - Engineering Leadership Development Division

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

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Paper Authors


Robyn Paul University of Calgary Orcid 16x16

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Robyn Paul is the Program Evaluation and Planning Specialist in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. She is responsible for supporting the decision-making and reporting needs of SSE, particularly those related to accreditation and the teaching and learning processes. Robyn is also finishing up her master’s thesis in engineering education where she is looking at the impact of engineering leadership development on career success.

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Arindom Sen University of Calgary

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Dr. Sen is the Associate Dean (Student Professional Development) in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. He is responsible for co-curricular programming related to professional skills development. He is also an award-winning teacher, a fellow of Engineers Canada and a professor of chemical engineering with a research focus in medical and industrial bioprocessing.

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Emily Wyatt University of Calgary: Schulich School of Engineering

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Emily Wyatt is the Specialist for Diversity & Student Professional Development in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. Her role focuses on student engagement, leadership, and diversity & inclusion initiatives for current and prospective engineering students. Emily holds a master’s degree in higher education and student development.

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In response to the demand for engineering graduates with stronger leadership skills, many engineering leadership development programs have been established around the world. Many of the best practices in such programs are similar to those in general leadership programs, and there seems to be a lack of understanding of how to define engineering leadership, and explain how it differs from general leadership. To address this issue, a survey was distributed to 163 participants (87% students, 13% alumni from a Canadian University) asking, “How do you define leadership in an engineering context?” The results were analyzed using qualitative content analysis, and four themes emerged: lead and influence others, personal effectiveness, engineering competency, and collaboration. Based on these results, combined with relevant knowledge from literature, this paper proposes a definition of engineering leadership that highlights the importance of both the engineering and the leadership aspects, thereby providing clearer direction for fostering leadership skills in our future engineers. The definition will provide engineering leadership educators with a better understanding of how to emphasize the importance of engineering leadership, and how to integrate it into a general engineering education curriculum.

Paul, R., & Sen, A., & Wyatt, E. (2018, June), Board 92 : What is Engineering Leadership? A Proposed Definition Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30137

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