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Development of Leadership and Communication Skills in an Experiential Learning Project Management Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Designing and Evaluating Engineering Leadership Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

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Paper Authors


Angie Moussa University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Angie Moussa is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with Distinction from the Honors College.

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Yanfen Li University of Massachusetts Lowell Orcid 16x16

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Yanfen Li is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She received her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her current research is in engineering education with a focus on curriculum development and retention of female and minority students in

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Most undergraduate engineering programs do not emphasize the development of leadership skills in the students (Schell & Hughes, 2017), although, engineering industry representatives have shown an emphasis on the need for leadership in today’s workforce (Hartmann & Jahren, 2015). The development of leadership is especially important for students who wish to pursue management careers including project management (PM) which is a highly needed and promising career path. Few undergraduate students are exposed to PM during their undergraduate curriculum, and most PM courses are based on literature and reading. The National Research Council Board on Engineering education noted that undergraduate curriculum needs to be reformed in order for undergraduates to get extensive exposure to interdisciplinary, hands-on skills, creative design, and systems thinking (National Research Council, 1995). At XXX, an experiential learning project management course was developed in order to introduce students to PM and to develop their leadership skills. In this course, upper level Biomedical Engineering students in a PM course are each paired with 3-4 first year students in an Intro to BME course as the team goes through a semester long project to design, research, and prototype a need. These PMs are responsible for goal setting, planning, risk assessment, and conflict management. Our paper aims to discuss the development and logistics of this course along with data to understand the effects of this experience on leadership development of upper level undergraduate students. A survey was developed, using a 5 point-Likert scale and reflection questions, to measure students’ self-efficacy, confidence, teamwork, problem solving, change, motivation, professional development, and communication. In addition, students provided reflection assignments analyzing their learning.

Achieving BEEd's Vision of the Engineering Education System. (1995). In Engineering education: Designing an adaptive system. Washington: National Academy Press. Hartmann, B. L., & Jahren, C. T. (2015). Leadership: Industry Needs for Entry-Level Engineering Positions. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 16(3), 13–19. Schell, W. J., & Hughes, B. E. (2017). An approach to understand the Role of Identity in Engineering Leadership. American Society for Engineering Education.

Moussa, A., & Li, Y. (2021, July), Development of Leadership and Communication Skills in an Experiential Learning Project Management Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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