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Development of Assessable Leadership Experiences Outside of the Engineering Classroom

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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

Assessment of Engineering Leadership Skills

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.534.1 - 26.534.7



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Paper Authors


David Bayless Ohio University

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Dr. Bayless is the Gerald Loehr Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Director of Ohio University’s Coal Research Center, part of Ohio University’s Center of Excellence in Energy and the Environment. He is also the director of the Robe Leadership Institute and director of the Center for Algal Engineering Research and Commercialization (an Ohio Third Frontier Wright Project) He is engaged in the development of energy and environmental technology such as producing algal-based fuels coupled with mitigation of greenhouse gases, bioreactor design, novel fluidized bed gasification, thermal processing of solid fuels, and adapting planar solid oxide fuel cells to coal-derived syngas. He has been principal investigator for over $18 million in externally funded research, holds several patents with three revenue generating licenses and one spin-off company, and over 60 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Bayless formerly worked for American Electric Power (Gavin and Amos Plants) and was an officer in the United States Navy. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Profs. Richard Buckius and James Peters, advisors.) He was the technical administrator of the State of Ohio’s Coal Research Consortium, funded by the Ohio Coal Development Office, from 2000-2007. He consults for several industrial, financial and legal firms. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Missouri and Ohio and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of the National Academy of Inventors. He has twice won the Ohio University Russ College of Engineering’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. He is also the founding Director of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Division for Engineering Leadership Development.

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Development of Assessable Leadership Experiences Outside of the Engineering ClassroomThe challenge of providing leadership learning experiences is particularly challenging in anacademic environment. The structure of a traditional classroom environment (built in rewardsystem [grades], presence of an authority figure [professor] and very limited time frame) restrictthe range of experiences that a developing leader may face. On the other hand, it is difficult toassess outcomes if external leadership opportunities are used for developing students because theopportunities (leading student clubs, honor societies, ROTC, etc.) have significant structuraldifferences. However, the challenges presented, especially for leading a “non-classroom”organization/effort of volunteers, can provide significant learning opportunities that cannot beeasily matched in a classroom environment.This paper discusses the first year of developing a “laboratory” for providing and assessingleadership experiences for students in a focused engineering leadership class. While none of theleadership experiences are the same, there are common elements of each experience.Specifically, the students must self-identify a volunteer (non-paying) organization and canclearly articulate the value of that organization in their lives. Further, the students must be able toidentify at least one significant problem within the organization that they can address, plusarticulate a vision for the organization after solving the problem. Finally, the students mustdevelop an action plan for leading the change to solve the problem, including a definedcommunication strategy and what leadership styles and tools will be used (and how they will beused) to motivate the volunteers. To provide further experience and help provide value to theorganizations, the students were organized into groups of four to act as advisors and assessors ofprogress for each team member, reporting specific metrics and general progress to the classprofessor on a weekly basis. This paper will present an overview of the program, a description ofthe roles and results, as well as lessons learned in helping provide tangible leadershipexperiences to developing engineering leaders.

Bayless, D. (2015, June), Development of Assessable Leadership Experiences Outside of the Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23873

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