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Engineering Leadership Development using an Interdisciplinary Competition-based Approach

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Insights and Practices for Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

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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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Use of experiential learning has been demonstrated to be an effective tool for engineering leadership development. However, experiential learning involving the integration of disciplines outside of engineering, specifically leadership development experiences including business majors, seems to be an untapped area. This educational gap could be problematic, as an abundance of anecdotal evidence, documented by Rogers and Freuler, and calls by professional engineering organizations, including ASEE and NAE, suggesting that engineers must learn to work with accounting, marketing, communications, and other functional groups within the business structure to attain project success in the “real world.”

In response to calls from our alumni advisory board for a leadership experience integrating business and engineering disciplines, a leadership development competition was designed using sustainability as the theme. Students developing leadership skills from both engineering and business were organized into teams to identify and solve a sustainability problem. Each student was not only focused on the overall competition, but also in defining their roles and leadership opportunities. Both teams and individual students had periodic metrics to report, as well as detail their plans for influencing stakeholders or teammates in specific action areas. While the competition was finalized by selecting the best project based on team “pitch,” the leadership development continued with the students developing a leadership plan to launch their projects.

This paper will present the details of the pedagogical approach, with a step-by-step explanation of the structure of a “capstone” leadership development project incorporating team dynamics, structured deliverables, and techniques of engagement of the business and engineering majors in the context of a competitive sustainability challenge program. This paper will present collected assessment data, an analysis of the data, and provide recommendations for improvement .

Bayless, D. (2017, June), Engineering Leadership Development using an Interdisciplinary Competition-based Approach Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28256

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