Asee peer logo

Engineering Leadership Styles Used in Industry Today

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Advancing Research on Engineering Leaders’ Confidence, Careers, and Styles

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Michele Fromel Pennsylvania State University

author page

Matthew Bennett

author page

Lei Wei ELIM program, Pennsylvania State University


Meg Handley Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Meg Handley is currently the Associate Director for Engineering Leadership Outreach at Penn State University. Previously, Meg served as the Director of the Career & Corporate Connection's office at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. Meg completed her PhD in Workforce Education at Penn State, where she focused on interpersonal behaviors and their impact on engineering leadership potential.

Meg is a board certified coach with experience in developing students' leadership and professional competencies through teaching and one-on-one coaching. She is most interested in developing student knowledge of leadership to impact their successful transition to the workplace.

visit author page


Dena Lang Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Dr. Lang is the Associate Director of the Engineering Leadership Research Program at Penn State University. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University, an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in Kinesiology with a focus on Biomechanics from Penn State University. Dr. Lang's previous professional experiences and research interests range from mechanical engineering facilities design to research that applied engineering and molecular biology approaches to the study of the skeletal response to mechanical loading. As a Mechanical Engineer, she worked on facility design projects involving mechanical systems that included heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and energy conservation systems, as well as R&D of air conditioning equipment for Navy ships. Additional research interests have included the investigation of relationships among components of the indoor environment, occupants, and energy usage. Specifically, the effects of the indoor environment on occupant health and well-being and in parallel, how socially-mediated energy-saving strategies can increase awareness of energy use and/or increase energy saving behaviors. Dr. Lang's current research interests focus on identifying, assessing, and developing key skills, knowledge, attitudes, and other intrinsic and extrinsic factors required for engineers to effectively lead others, particularly other engineers and across cultures.

visit author page


Andrew Michael Erdman Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Andrew M. "Mike" Erdman received his B.S. in Engineering Science from Penn State and his M.S. from USC. At Rocketdyne (Pratt & Whitney), he helped design the Space Shuttle. As manager of Reactor Safety Analysis, Experimental Engineering, and Fluid Dynamics Technology at KAPL (Bechtel), he conducted research for Naval Reactors. He currently serves as the Walter L. Robb director of Engineering Leadership and as a Professor of Practice in SEDTAPP and Engineering Science at Penn State.
Erdman has chaired the local Jaycees, Department of Social Services Advisory Council, GE Share Board, and Curling Club; and served on the Human Services Planning Council, United Way, Chamber of Commerce, and Capital Fund Drive Boards of Directors. Erdman has lectured on leadership topics at Penn State and RPI. He served as a recruiter (25 years) for GE and Lockheed Martin, on the Penn State College of Engineering Advisory Council, an Alumni Advisory Board, and as the President of the College of Engineering Alumni Society. Affiliations include Fellow of ASME, member of ASEE, AIAA, the Penn State Alumni Association, Centre County Chapter Board of Directors, President’s Club, Nittany Lion Club. He has been honored with a LMC Leadership Award, GE Phillippe Award, PSEAS Outstanding service award, Jaycee International Senatorship, and an ESM Centennial Fellowship.

visit author page

Download Paper |


NOTE: This is a student paper from a graduate engineering leadership course

Defining engineering leadership has been a challenge since the inception of the topic. Nevertheless, developing engineering leaders is important for companies in the engineering industry to maintain competitiveness and promote future innovations. This study will evaluate feedback from interviews of engineers and accountants regarding leadership styles in order to promote a better understanding of engineering leadership styles in practice today and help focus leadership styles critical for engineers.

This research will identify variations or similarities of leadership styles in the technical field of engineering versus a less technical discipline such as accounting, showing how these styles overlap or differ. The resulting data can provide insight into current engineering practices and how leadership is approached in different industries and disciplines. Differences in the data will help academia and the engineering industry recognize the need for specific engineering leadership education in regards to leadership styles. In order to add to the body of knowledge and address the challenge of defining engineering leadership, the study intends to conduct interviews with engineers and accountants. These interviews will collect qualitative information, consisting of accounts of observed leadership behaviors practiced and/or experienced by the interviewees in the workplace. The data will be analyzed through a computer program, such as Dedoose, to ensure consistent analysis of data. A constant comparative method will be used to analyze the data from each interview. Key phrases and characteristics that correspond to the various leadership styles will be identified and categorized. Once the leadership styles represented by each interview are categorized, the most common styles for the engineering and accounting disciplines will be determined. Comparisons will be made regarding commonalities and differences both within and between the two groups.

Interviews of these individuals will be conducted between October 16th and October 25th, depending on availability of the interviewees and researchers. This timeframe will ensure sufficient time to transcribe each interview before October 29th, when data analysis will begin. Three researchers will conduct the interviews, complete the corresponding transcriptions, and compare findings for triangulation analysis. Results are anticipated in November after data collection and analysis are conducted. From those results, conclusions will be drawn that will hopefully lend a better understanding of engineering leadership styles in industry today.

Fromel, M., & Bennett, M., & Wei, L., & Handley, M., & Lang, D., & Erdman, A. M. (2019, June), Engineering Leadership Styles Used in Industry Today Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32730

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: © 2019 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