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Curricular and Non-Curricular Factors Impacting Development of Leadership Competencies in Undergraduate Civil Engineering and Construction Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Curriculum in Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.429.1 - 26.429.10



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Paper Authors


Mohammadreza Ostadali Makhmalbaf Virginia Tech

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Mohammadreza Ostadalimakhmalbaf is a Ph.D. student in the the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program (VCEMP) in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Virginia Tech University. He is a member of American Society of Civil Engineering. His research interests include leadership development and Hispanic workforce safety in the construction industry.

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Denise Rutledge Simmons P.E. Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Denise R. Simmons, P.E., is an assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and in Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, and an affiliate faculty of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering and a graduate certificate in engineering education – all from Clemson University. Until 2012, she was the director of the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station. Dr. Simmons has nearly fourteen years of engineering and project management experience working with public utility companies, a project management consulting company, and a software company. She is a registered professional engineer, project management professional and LEED accredited professional. Her research interests are in investigating students’ development of leadership skills and other professional competencies and in students' involvement in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Dr. Simmons is a NSF CAREER award recipient for her research entitled, “Investigating Co-Curricular Participation of Students Underrepresented in Engineering.”

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ABSTRACTCurricular and Non- Curricular Factors Impacting Development of LeadershipCompetencies in Undergraduate Civil Engineering and Construction StudentsBackgroundLeadership competencies (e.g., teamwork, problem solving, ethics, and communications) arevital for the accomplishment of any construction project. According to ASCE’s Vision 2025,civil engineers will have to command the multidisciplinary and leadership facets of their work inorder to implement complex projects that include various stakeholders. Similarly, it has beenstated in ASCE Body of Knowledge (BOK) that twenty-first century engineers must possessleadership competences in addition to technical competencies as the industry moves forward.But, the construction industry is experiencing gaps in developing specific and necessarycompetencies; leadership is one known deficiency. Other reasons including rising complexityand rapidly changing nature of construction project, have called for improved leadershipdevelopment in the construction industry. University and college faculty can play a pivotal rolein helping undergraduate civil engineering and construction students develop leadershipcompetencies.PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to first identify and synthesize the course experiences, also known ascurricular factors, and non-curricular factors such as mentoring networks and internships thatimpact the development of leadership competencies for civil engineering and constructionundergraduate students. The paper then discusses curricular changes that can be implemented toimprove the development of leadership competencies for undergraduate civil engineering andconstruction students.MethodologyA critical review and qualitative synthesis of the literature was employed to gather known factorsrelating to students’ leadership development resulting from undergraduate coursework. Over 40peer-reviewed research papers published after the year 2000 were extracted from 4 databases:Web of Science, Scopus, Engineering Village and ASCE Library.FindingsThe curricular and non-curricular factors impacting development of leadership competenciesinclude instructor’s knowledge, course assignments and activities, course content (e.g., emphasison the development of technical competencies vs. development of emotional intelligence skills inthe course), access to resources (e.g., instructional technologies, guest speakers), and ability toenroll in courses outside of required curriculum (e.g., courses in management, leadership andlaw).Research ImplicationsThis study contains pivotal implications for future research and practice. The paper discussesimplications for faculty who instruct and advise undergraduate civil engineering and constructionstudents. With the information gathered and studied, future steps may be taken by facultymembers to bridge and, in particular, improve their students’ development of leadershipcompetencies.Key Words: Civil engineering and construction undergraduate students, leadership competence,curricular non-curricular changesType of Paper: Literature Review

Ostadali Makhmalbaf, M., & Simmons, D. R. (2015, June), Curricular and Non-Curricular Factors Impacting Development of Leadership Competencies in Undergraduate Civil Engineering and Construction Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23768

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015