Asee peer logo

Developing Engineering Leaders using Engineering Leadership Capabilities and Leadership Labs

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Engineering Leadership Development Division Technical Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.399.1 - 23.399.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Simon Pitts Northeastern University

visit author page

Simon Pitts is the director of Northeastern’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Program and professor of Practice in Engineering Leadership. A graduate of Loughborough University and executive education at INSEAD, Pitts began his career in advanced powertrain development and research at Ford Motor Company. During his time with Ford, his assignments included leading engineering and cross functional teams as Vehicle Line director, director of Manufacturing Operations, and director of Powertrain Planning and then Product Development Operations for all Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda and Volvo brands globally. Prior to joining Northeastern, Pitts served as director of the Ford-MIT Research Alliance.

visit author page

author page

Steve McGonagle Northeastern University


Steven W Klosterman Northeastern University

visit author page

Director of Engineering Leadership Steven Klosterman works in the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. Klosterman is also a professor of the practice in Engineering Leadership at Northeastern University. Klosterman teaches leadership, product development and systems engineering. He has over 25 years of experience in the high technology and renewable energy industries. Following roles in computer architecture and design at the Digital Equipment Corporation and as an engineer at startup Stellar Computer, Steve joined Sun Microsystems in 1990 as a microprocessor designer.
At Sun, he led and managed hardware engineering, product design and systems engineering organizations, was the director of Engineering in Worldwide Operations and a Product Line director running a program management organization. Prior to joining the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, he was senior director of Product Management at the Satcon Technology Corporation, a leading maker of commercial solar inverters.
Klosterman received a B.S.E.C.E. from the University of Cincinnati in 1983, and an S.M. in Engineering and Management from MIT in 2000 as a fellow in the Systems Design and Management (SDM) Program. He served on the steering committee for the SDM and Leaders for Manufacturing programs.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Developing Engineering Leaders using Engineering Leadership Capabilities and Leadership LabsTo succeed in today’s hyper-competitive global economy, industry and society need the end-to-end education process to develop future engineering leaders who have the capability to Leadteams in efficiently and effectively delivering projects and products for their stakeholders.Currently, a significant “gap” exists between this need and the output of the engineeringeducation system. At the very least, this gap causes a lack of competitiveness for commercialentities; at worst, it results in failed projects and failed companies, preventing worthwhiletechnologies and innovations from reaching customers and society.The purpose of this paper is to examine a specific pedagogical technique employed in developingengineering leaders: the use of a leadership capabilities framework linked to interactiveleadership laboratories.We use this method as one aspect of our overall approach to developing graduate-levelengineering leaders. Through leadership capabilities and leadership laboratories, we enhance theknowledge, skills and attitudes of engineers and accelerate their ability to lead cross-functionalteams.We begin by assessing and creating self-awareness of the necessary capabilities of a successfulengineering leader and focus the Candidates on building on the strengths they have, as well ascreating new capabilities in areas where they have weaknesses. The leadership models taughtare derived from a variety of sources, including the Sloan-MIT Leadership model. These areused together with appropriate models focusing on core leadership competencies based onproven military leadership techniques and philosophies.Upon entering the program, Candidates undertake a Myers-Briggs assessment as a means forunderstanding their personal traits and attitudes. They then perform an initial assessment of theprime leadership characteristics to target in their development. This diagnostic is repeated later inthe course with additional feedback obtained from their peers and supervisors.Each Engineering Leadership class is supplemented by a Leadership Laboratory that augmentsthe Candidates’ experience and mastery of topics introduced in lectures. By engaging in self-assessments, interactive role-playing exercises, and case studies, Candidates explore topicsthrough practical experience. Leadership Labs allow Candidates to demonstrate, throughperformance oriented behavior, interaction and verbal feedback, mastery of a leadership attributeor skill.The first Leadership Lab reveals a Leadership Framework covering core values, engineeringleadership knowledge, capabilities and attitudes. In this lab, the Candidates learn the distinctionbetween leadership and management.The labs acquaint the Candidates with the tools essential to leading people and teams. Amongthem are creating a common vision, planning a project, organizing and inspiring a team,developing goals, assigning roles, setting expectations, providing feedback, negotiation,decision-making, and conflict resolution. Communication and presentation skills are practiced insimulated workplace scenarios, developing the expertise necessary to influence a team in thesuccessful completion of a project.Finally, the impacts of the business, cultural, and societal environment in which Candidates willlead are explored. The ability to stay situationally aware in complex and dynamic organizationaland business domains, account for cultural differences, maintain sound ethics, manage up anddown, and successfully maneuver throughout the extended enterprise enable Candidates to createthe perspective and context in which they will lead. Labs are performance-based, and Candidatesreceive direct feedback at the end of each session.

Pitts, S., & McGonagle, S., & Klosterman, S. W. (2013, June), Developing Engineering Leaders using Engineering Leadership Capabilities and Leadership Labs Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19413

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: © 2013 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