June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.358.1 - 11.358.15
with leadership skills. The fact that Archer Center instructors were not technically trained was questioned. Further, engineering faculty were “successful” without such training in their backgrounds—why would there be a need to impose this added burden on an already tight curriculum. Finally, the most prevalent reaction is that these skills are essentially “common sense” so that no academic (credit hour) component is really needed. Lastly, the entire notion of what “leadership” means in a modern technological environment, distinct from how to function as the “person in charge,” needed clarification.
However, over the past 7 years, carefully and continuous assessment of these courses and how they serve to improve the educational experience of all our engineering students has led to broad acceptance, and their place in the curriculum is no longer a controversy. The present paper will proceed with a more detailed description of the two courses and the assessment process, which has been a key component of every activity. The Archer Center leadership and staff continually revise these courses to make them increasingly relevant to our graduates and to strengthen the engineering curriculum as a whole. These assessment processes will then be described in greater detail along with the specific examples of how the courses have been improved over the years. The assessment instruments themselves have also evolved significantly, as well.
To conclude this background discussion, we note that the Archer Center is currently housed in the Office of Student Life and the Director, Linda McCloskey, reports directly the Vice- President for Student Life. However, the Director and Professional Staff maintain close cooperation with the Associate Deans in the School of Engineering and the School of Management, as well as the Provost. The Director also reports to the Rensselaer Student Union Executive Board, which funds many of the leadership and professional development activities that are extra-curricular on the campus. The Center staff are comprised of an Associate Director and Senior Educator (Christine Allard) and 7 Educator/Lectures who are full time staff in the Center.
Professional Development I (PD-1) provides students with an introduction to a simulated professional environment where they can be exposed to the body of knowledge on effective teams. Coursework consists primarily of skills-based learning designed to foster effective teamwork abilities. Skills and topics include: collaboration, effective communication and feedback, conflict management, team development and ethical decision-making. Coursework and assignments are designed for students to gain topical knowledge, analyze and apply basic concepts, and expand written and oral communication skills.
Students take and also evaluate the use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator1. Corporate guests from ExxonMobil and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory participate in some of the classes to reinforce some of the concepts and applications in industry. PD-1 is integrated into the Second Year Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) course, which for most students is the first major experience in working in multidisciplinary teams, and they are crucially interdependent for success. It is important to understand that the course emphasizes how students with different values can work together productively. Team members must learn to respect the differing values among their members. For example, an “A” student and a “C” student have to be able to work
Keraga, G. H., & Schierenbeck, T. N., & McCloskey, L., & Smith, R. (2006, June), Continuous Feed Forward Evolution Of A Professional Development Course Sequence Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1187
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