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Developing and Assessing Leadership in Engineering Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Adaptive and Supportive Learning Environments

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering and Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.423.1 - 25.423.9

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Paper Authors


W. Vincent Wilding Brigham Young University

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W. Vincent Wilding is professor, Brigham Young University, 1994-present. He worked for Wiltec Research Company, Inc., 1985-1994. He has a Ph.D., chemical engineering, from Rice University, 1985; and B.S., chemical engineering, Brigham Young University, 1981. He has a P.E. license: 362027-2202.

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Thomas Allen Knotts IV Brigham Young University


William G. Pitt Brigham Young University

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William G. Pitt received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He obtained a faculty position at Brigham Young University in the Chemical Engineering Department, where he has served since 1987. He is currently the Pope Professor of chemical engineering at BYU and an Adjunct Research Professor in the Bioengineering Department of the University of Utah. During his 24 years at BYU, his teaching has been in the areas of materials, polymers, and transport phenomena. His research has spanned many disciplines ranging from biomedical material surfaces and composite materials to his current work in controlled drug and gene delivery. With colleagues and students at BYU and other institutions, he has more than 110 peer-reviewed journal publications.

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Morris D. Argyle Brigham Young University Orcid 16x16

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Developing and Assessing Leadership in Engineering StudentsW. Vincent Wilding, Thomas A. Knotts IV, William G. Pitt, and Morris D. ArgyleDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Brigham Young UniversityThe Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology at Brigham Young Universityis focusing on five initiatives: Leadership, Innovation, Global Awareness, Character,Technical Excellence. Efforts in the realm of leadership include freshmen leadershipseminars and a required sophomore course entitled Global Leadership in aTechnological World. Departments within the college are expected to build on thisfoundation in the junior and senior years.The Chemical Engineering Department has developed an effective and efficientprogram to further develop and assess leadership skills. The first challenge in thisprocess was to come up with a working definition of “leadership” with enough substancethat we could deal in concrete principles and practices. Through discussions with ourIndustrial Advisory Board we developed a list of leadership characteristics important inengineering practice which constitutes this working definition.Although there are team experiences in most of our courses, we have designated onecourse in each semester from the second semester of the sophomore year throughgraduation in which to focus on and assess leadership skills. In each team experiencein these courses each student uses the list of leadership characteristics as a basis forgiving feedback to their team mates. Then each student uses the feedback from his/herteammates to develop a brief plan to make improvements. This plan is thenimplemented in the next team experience which may be later in the same course, or in asubsequent semester. Feedback, improvement plans, and closing-the-loop evaluationsare all compiled in a web-based portfolio which grows with each subsequent experienceso that by graduation each student has a rich record of leadership experiences withsuccesses, challenges, and improvements neatly documented. This process ofcontinuous-improvement efforts tied to periodic feedback mimics the professionalpractice of regular performance evaluations.The entire process is student-driven so that it adds very little to faculty work load.Student engagement and their ability to implement goals can easily be assessed fromthe portfolio for the purposes of grading. Also, students readily see the value ofcultivating their leadership skills, and therefore student buy-in is high.

Wilding, W. V., & Knotts, T. A., & Pitt, W. G., & Argyle, M. D. (2012, June), Developing and Assessing Leadership in Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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