June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Engineering Leadership Development Division
26.503.1 - 26.503.24
Developing Personal Case Studies as a Method for Deepening Lessons in Engineering LeadershipAs a final assignment in a year long graduate program in engineering leadership, studentsare tasked to research and develop a case study and prepare a presentation to the class asmethod for analyzing and assessing leadership skills and characteristics as displayed byhistoric, contemporary or iconic leaders in engineering and technology. This paperdescribes how this exercise enriches the understanding of how leadership emerges andevolves.In the program 14 leadership capabilities are taught and developed through lectures, casestudy and labs augmented by a weekly guest speaker. Students are introduced toassessment techniques such as Myers-Briggs, Thomas-Kilmann conflict management andD.I.S.C, taught classic theories on sources of power, ethics, followership, leading fromthe middle, influence without authority, team dynamics and other themes.With this foundation, vocabulary and awareness of the field of leadership, students aregiven a "share your leadership story” assignment at the end of their final semester. Theyselect an engineering leader of interest, someone renown in a field, industry or companyfor a significant contribution to science or engineering. They research the leader usingbiographies, autobiographies, history books, television documentaries, movies, interviewsor other methods.The assignment is to, first, write a substantive report in which they analyze their subjectusing all of the lenses learned in the class, such as: • What are the key life events and achievements of this leader? In what ways did they stand out? • What made them a great engineer? • Why types of organizational climates did they establish and operate in? • What Myers-Briggs descriptor (ESTP, ENFJ...) do you feel best describes the leader, and why? • What types of conflicts did they experience and how did they cope with them? • Based upon the leadership capabilities taught in the program how do they rank? • What sources of power appear to be the leader's default preferences? • What surprised you?Next the students prepare flip charts that are posted in the classroom and prepare asummary presentation on what they found.To date, reports on over 120 different leaders have been studied and archived. Subjectshave ranged from Sir. Isaac Newton to Thomas Edison, Grace Hopper to Steve Jobs,Elon Musk (of SpaceX fame) to Ratan Tata (founder of the Tata Group), from distanthistory to pulled from today’s headlines, local and international, male and female.This exercise has proven to be powerful, enlightening and revealing. By analyzing aleader from the perspective of what they’ve learned in the course, students begin toappreciate the diversity of how leadership emerges, that most leaders have some type offlaw or shortcoming that they either overcame or were plagued by, and which might actas the role model for how they see themselves.
Klosterman, S. W., & McGonagle, S. T., & Pitts, S. (2015, June), Developing Personal Case Studies as a Method for Deepening Lessons in Engineering Leadership Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23842
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